Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s “Big Love” was a big show in every sense of the word. Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Summer Resort 2015’s opening show by the Kolkata designer was 25 minutes long, had a runway measuring 200×20 ft, 73 models, 120 garments walking the ramp, many Bollywood celebrities in attendance and a roving drone monitoring the proceedings.
Staged in the cavernous confines of a shed at the Richardson & Cruddas Mills in Mumbai, the venue, with its stark surroundings and minimal lighting, was far from what we’ve come to expect of the designer. Assorted chairs in a variety of vintage polishes, hues and designs lined the runway, perhaps offering the only indication that this was a Sabyasachi show. Sabyasachi by Sabyasachi, to be more precise. Mukherjee presented his ready-to-wear collection to a select audience with faces such as Deepika Padukone, Sridevi, Kalki Koechlin, Rani Mukerji, Kajol and Neha Dhupia peering from the front row.
The ’70s influence was not lost on anyone when the show opened to the strains of Bollywood classic Aap jaisa koi. The models wore retro dark glasses, severe centre-parted hair and ponytails as they wafted down the ramp in sari drapes with diaphanous trails, jumpsuits with flyaway capes, gold-hemmed shifts, printed palazzos, roomy shirtwaisters and floaty tunics and gilets. Starting with a black-and-gold colour story, the designer dialled it down to brown, beige, greys and greens before turning the volume up with full-on colour and shimmer. Sequins hit the runway, first in an all-gold dress, and then in no-holds barred metallics, reds, greens and something we can only describe as riotous. Of special note were the models who walked out wearing dazzling dresses emblazoned with ‘7’ and ‘4’ (Mukherjee’s birth year).
At times we felt Mukherjee was having a bit of a laugh at our expense, daring us to scream “death by dazzle”. We swear we even heard the swish of the bugle beads on some sheath dresses over the loud pulsating music.
But apart from the acute disco fever, thankfully, the ’70s iteration wasn’t all too literal and kept close to Mukherjee’s own oeuvre. In a way, it was a distillate of collections past. The fabulous florals, swing vests, striped cropped blouses, the power suits, the printed ball skirts and the print-on-print spectacle bore the Sabyasachi thumbprint and were adroitly tweaked into a younger, lighter ready-to-wear avatar. Yes, the florals were cheery and the outfits colourful, but some of the print stories failed to move us.
However, amid the razzle-dazzle what was positively hard to miss was the logo of the Bengal tiger, Mukherjee’s insignia that was launched last year. It was seen on his line of leatherware that also included belts, clogs, flats, moccasins, handbags and satchels. Love isn’t the word we’d use to describe some of those pieces. Lust would be more appropriate.