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Satya Paul, who introduced Indian fashion to bold prints, neon colours, dies

The man behind the brand, designer Satya Paul, died on Thursday, at Isha Ashram in Coimbatore. He was 78. The veteran designer had been unwell for some time, after having suffered a stroke in December last year.

Written by Ektaa Malik | New Delhi | January 8, 2021 1:05:37 am
Satya Paul passes away at 79. (Source: Puneet Nanda/Facebook)

IN INDIA of a pre-liberalised economy, buying a designer sari, hand bag, or even a scarf was out of reach for many. But if one did save and scrunch, it was for a Satya Paul sari, or, in a rare departure for men, a Satya Paul tie.

The man behind the brand, designer Satya Paul, died on Thursday, at Isha Ashram in Coimbatore. He was 78. The veteran designer had been unwell for some time, after having suffered a stroke in December last year.

Paul’s son Puneet Nanda broke the news in a Facebook post: “We finally got clearance from doctors to take him back to Isha Yoga Center, his home since 2015. As per his wish, he gently passed on with blessings of the Master.”

Paul made a name for himself in Indian fashion by introducing prints on textiles in an era in which embroidery was still considered the high point. He started the brand ‘Satya Paul’ in 1985 with entrepreneur Sanjay Kapoor. Later, his son Puneet took over from him.

Paul was also among the first designers to expand his repertoire to accessories — cufflinks, totes and wallets were as much a part of his brand identity as the clothes. “He was truly a pioneer in the field of textiles. His family came to India from Pakistan, and he single-handedly changed the language of Indian fashion in the eighties. He blended handwoven textiles with prints, and that’s something no one had thought of doing then,” said designer Rajesh Pratap Singh, who is currently the creative director of Satya Paul.Earlier, designer Masaba Gupta has also served as the creative director of the fashion house.

Paul’s bold colour palette, especially the use of neon and pop colours, became something of a calling card. “His usage of geometric prints, and later abstract designs as well, on textiles like jaamdanis, jaamewar, and pure cottons, and his usage of vegetable dyes left a deep impression on me. Not just me, all of India went ga-ga over his very modern approach to design. I used to really look up to him,” said Delhi-based designer Anju Modi. “But the one thing that keeps coming back to me is his matter-of-fact approach to life and work. He didn’t have many airs about himself, but he was proud of his work.”

In the early 2000s, after his son took over the business, Paul moved towards spirituality. He was known to be deeply influenced by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. “He was a very spiritual person, and that spirituality was at the core of his design aesthetic,” said Singh.

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