A life-sized mirror is propped against slate grey walls and spools of fabric and wire cables are strewn across the floor. There is also a headless mannequin and steel racks that are de rigueur in all designer studios. In between all of this, Amit Aggarwal is seated behind a behemoth desk at his workshop in Lado Sarai. There is frenzied activity all around. After all, Aggarwal is soon heading to Paris to present his Spring/Summer 2019 collection at the Westin Vendome showroom. His creations are high on theatrics, with chiseled silhouettes that are further sharpened by the use of cables, wires and metal. Aggarwal himself, in sharp contrast, is very demure and soft-spoken. “Drama kapdo main daalo na,” says the designer, who hails from Mumbai, but has been working out of Delhi for more than a decade. “I think sometimes we get caught up in the trappings and miss the real picture just because it’s a trade that involves a certain bit of visibility,” he adds.
The designer has showcased at most fashion weeks in the country in the last two years, including the India Couture Week in Delhi and the recent Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai, where he debuted his menswear line. His edgy and eclectic creations are now worn by brides. “Our store at The Kila has been doing brisk business and we keep getting demands for bridal wear. We also get requests from men, and why not, everyone wants to look their best on their wedding day. People no longer want to wear stuff that’s just trendy and not a reflection of their own aesthetics,” adds Aggarwal, 38. An alumnus of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Delhi, he worked with couturier Tarun Tahiliani for three years.
The emphasis laid by NIFT on the concepts of structure, pattern making and international fashion, also helped Aggarwal hone his own trademark aesthetic. “Even as a child, I was very good at mathematics, I was fascinated by structure, geometry and lines. We grew up in times when there was no social media. We would religiously follow fashion magazines to know international trends. My own education initially was knowing what the west did. Later, of course, it evolved,” he says, adding, “My biggest influence till date is the late French designer Azzedine Alaia — he was brave. He used really sculpted designs and stuck to his craft.”
Aggarwal’s work infuses edgy silhouettes, albeit with an almost minimalistic touch. The frills and drapes are kept to a minimum. “I visited Japan during an exchange programme when I was 19, and for a month I just soaked everything up. I was struck by their sense of stark minimalism and that has stayed with me,” says the designer. “But in terms of inspiration, for creating new designs, I think in biomimicry. Scientific forms, mathematical equations and calculations are also part of my creative process. Even skeletal forms, anatomical arrangements of insects or the frame of a leaf or even a wing — the possibilities are endless,” he asserts.
In 2012, Aggarwal launched his eponymous couture label. In 2015, he created his diffusion line AM.IT, which has quickly become one of the edgiest homegrown brands. The designer has experimented with creating garments from the humble gamcha, upcycled handloom saris and even polythene bags. “In any creative sphere, there is always a need to evolve. We can’t just keep regurgitating what seems to be working. I needed to be gutsy and push the language of design. I think it’s working, We should not always give people what they want. It took me a while to understand what people want, and what they can work towards — we can rise together. As for money, if we create value for any product, I think the finances shall fall in place,” he adds. The coming year seems to be even busier — there are plans to relaunch Aggarwal’s flagship store at The Kila in November, and a Mumbai store is also in the works.
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