He weaves magic with his designs and his runway shows are the stuff fantasies are made of! Master couturier Rohit Bal believes in breaking conventions and he does it in style with unconventional silhouettes, gorgeous handcrafted designs and his deep understanding of aesthetics.
On his recent visit to the capital, IndianExpress.com caught up with the bad boy of fashion. Here, he exclusively talks about ‘Illuminate’, his upcoming collection at the Lakme Fashion Week, his favourite fashion icon of all times and more.
What can we expect from you at the Lakme Fashion Week this year?
The theme of my show this year is ‘Illuminate’ and as the name suggests, the collection will be glinty but in a good way. Gold work will be an essential part of the designs but I promise you that it won’t be blingy. The collection will have it’s own elements of drama but at the same time it will be really simple and wearable. You will get to see a lot of bright florals and ivory interspersed with subtle gold. Special attention’s been given to the location, lighting and sound too.
I have picked up a historical monument this year to showcase my collection. The idea is to give the viewers a complete experience of haute couture with a brilliant light and sound show to complement it. You will get to see a lot of Indian elements and that goes for the lighting too with lion and tiger motifs playing in the background.
You always create a land of fantasy with your designs. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
For me, it’s an on-going process. Take the example of my latest collection for the Lakme Fashion Week. I got over with all the conceptualisation just 15 to 20 days before the last legwork of the collection went underway.
What are 24 hours like in the world of Rohit Bal?
(Laughs) This will need more than 24 hours for me to explain! But in a nutshell, my life is pretty chilled out. Now, I have chosen a life that’s easygoing and calm. I don’t like to stress myself over things and I don’t take too much on my plate anymore. I only do whatever I want and I do it in my own sweet time. There’s no rush. Probably, this attitude also stems out of the realisation that I am capable of doing things at a much faster pace than other people and by this I mean just mental tasks. What people can do in 2-3 days, I manage to get it done in 2-3 hours.
What do you think of Priyanka Chopra’s appearance at the Oscars 2016 red carpet? Do you think she could have done better?
Honestly, there’s always room for improvement and we can all do better in our lives. But I think Priyanka Chopra looked very beautiful. I loved how she kept it simple and classic. The colours were lovely and complemented her really well. And the minimal jewellery did the trick. There were people who said she could have done better but to me she looked perfect.
Would you have preferred if she would have worn a saree instead?
No. You don’t have to wear a saree every time to say that you are Indian. Do you seen Japanese actors wearing a Kimono to the red carpet just because they are Japanese?
Tell us about your experience at the Make in India Week?
Presenting my designs at the Make in India Week was an incredible experience. Even though it was short and brief, I had fun creating costumes for the show. The theme ‘The Weaves of Benaras’ in itself was very exciting and I loved playing with all the bright colours and Benarasi weaves. I think it’s a noble initiative and we should continue doing it.
What is the best thing about being in the fashion industry today?
The best thing would be the reach that designers have these days. Earlier, things were very different and scopes were limited but now with the Internet around and the reach it’s got, things have become much more easier. The world has become compact and that’s worked out in our favour.
What are the five things that every fashionista should remember?
Just be yourself.
Who are your style icons?
Alexander McQueen is my all-time favourite. I think he was an absolute genius and his designs are gorgeous. Then, there is John Galliano despite all his anti-Semitic problems. I just love him as a designer.
Armani holds a special place too and what he’s done for the industry in modern times will always be unmatched. There’s an element of elegance and chicness in his designs and that’s unparalleled. Back home, I am a big fan of Shahab Durazi. The minimalism and understated elegance in his designs is something you can’t miss. I also, love Sabyasachi for his impeccable sense of style.
In the fashion industry, you were part of the group that helped India progress. Do you think that the new crop of designers has the strength to do the same or do you feel there is a scarcity of real talent?
There’s no dearth of talent among the new crop of designers but most of them are busy drawing inspiration from the West. They are more focused on addressing the needs of the western world, doing western wear and repeating the same kinds of designs over and over again. To me, it seems they are just following the herd. I think they should be true to themselves and listen to their inner voice rather than focusing on outwardly things.
According to you, which Indian politician has a great sense of style?
I think Sonia Gandhi is really stylish in a pristine, simple way. I like Vasundhara Raje too. Both these ladies have an impeccable sense of style and their confidence adds to their appeal. In men, I think Shashi Tharoor looks really dapper.