With his Fall/Winter 2011 collection, Kallol Datta created a buzz that’s still buzzing. The designer, known for his out-of-the-box thinking, has maintained that the collection, inspired by his stay at Khoj, India’s first fashion residency, is his way of saying “how bastardized the word fashion is today”. Read on for an interesting tete-a-tete with the maverick designer who talks with characteristic individuality on ‘fashion trends’ and ‘real women’
Q How does Kolkata as a city or the Bengali aesthetic affect your design?
A Kolkata is my operative base. The city is lazy and passionate at the same time, and this probably keeps creeping into my work style. A visit to another city is essential since it works as a much needed jolt!
Q What are your other design/life influences, like peoples or cities?
A My clothes from the very beginning have been an ongoing social commentary of sorts. The way fashion is understood in our country, the way it’s treated and perceptions of the industry figure largely in my work.
Q Your fondness for dark themes often contradicts with bursts of colour. How do you marry the two?
A My thoughts might usually arise from a seemingly dark place, but by the time they’re personified in a fabric form, there is a bit of humour in them via the medium of colour. For me it always is about humour in the morbid.
Q What is your opinion on ‘Ugly Pretty’ fashion? It often doesn’t find resonance with Indians.
A It is relative you know...I am uncomfortable with the connotation that the word ‘pretty’ brings about in fashion. India still has to be pushed beyond TV and films when it comes to making sartorial decisions. Younger alternative designers are slowing educating Tier 1 cities. This has to percolate further.
Q What do you see as emerging trends on the Indian fashion scene in the next 5 years?
A Am awful with trends! To me the term was coined by some emotionally vapid design/PR house to milk the consumer for all they were worth and from preventing people to have their own voice in wardrobe decisions.
It’s become all about trends in the industry now. And that is an ugly thing.
Q Do you feel Indian textiles and indigenous workmanship is being used to its full potential by Indian designers?
A You have a certain set of designers who do delve into Indian textiles and yarns. But this ongoing manifesto about harnessing Indian workmanship plus eco friendly fashion etc cannot be taken on board by every designer.
Q With high street fashion booming in India, do you think more designers will move towards affordable pret collections in the future?
A With B2B events like fashion weeks, which primarily showcase ready-to-wear clothes, I think we’re primarily moving towards every design house creating pret. Bridal wear (not couture) however reigns supreme for a few.
Q What are your thoughts on the use of prints and (abuse) of surface embellishments in Indian design?
A I gravitate towards using prints via motif based graphics. They help me tell a story better.
Q Do you think the fashion industry is ageist, worldwide? What sort of a woman do your designs cater to?
A More than ageist, it is slightly size-ist. I make garments for all shapes. Real Women are my ideal women.