Exactly a year ago, 57-year-old Alistair Blair was stuck in a traffic jam in Delhi. To make matters worse, the taxi he had hired broke down, and Blair spent a hot afternoon sweating in the car. But he didn’t complain one bit. After all, he was going to visit the cluster of block printers that reputed clothing brand Fabindia works with. “That was the best moment of the last two years,” says Blair. This visit for the British-origin fashion designer was not a tourist exercise at all, it was preparation for creating Fabels, a line of contemporary western wear
Launched on Wednesday evening at Fabindia’s Connaught Place (CP) store, this marks the entry of the 54-year-old clothing brand into the western wear market. A separate portion of the store in CP has been dedicated to Fabels, which houses a range of menswear, womenswear, shoes, bags, scarves and jewellery. A mini fashion show also took place at the launch as models sported black knee-length asymmetrical dresses, floral block printed shift dresses, black flared palazzos, as well as Chinese collar shirts with waistcoats and linen pants, paired with flat canvas shoes and beads. For now, 10 stores across Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore will retail Fabels, and a new collection will be unveiled every six to eight weeks. In Delhi, currently Fabels is available at CP, Khan Market and Select Citywalk, Saket.
As Blair — the dramatic Goa-based designer hired by William Bissel, Managing Director, Fabindia — takes us around the store, his love for khadi, and block printing is evident, as he touches every piece affectionately. It was two years ago that Blair met Bissel through a common friend and was impressed with an old brand’s wish to be adventurous by starting a separate label. It ended Blair’s sabbatical and he returned to fashion after a little less than a decade. He has, in the past, worked with Dior, Valentino, Chloe and Givenchy, and also had his own label in London in the ’80s. Eight years ago, he packed his bags, put his London house on rent and moved to Goa. “I never want to establish a fashion label again. It’s too much commitment. I am now writing a fat book about my life,” he says.
Work on the winter-festive capsule of Fabels has already begun. Energetic, animated and a bit dramatic, Blair brings a fair amount of zest, which this new brand needs to compete with established western wear labels. “The first collection is small and I agree, it’s on the safer side.
We could not have gone too far away from the Fabindia concept, feel and philosophy. Otherwise, the regular customer as well as the new customer would wonder what happened. The upcoming collection is bolder and I have used 14 colours in that one,” he says.
A few garments from the current collection are must-haves for one’s wardrobe — the floral block printed blazer and a crisp white shirt with chikankari work — others need some nipping and tucking.