Best-known for his sculptural couture, fashion designer Gaurav Gupta is a name to reckon with. A winner of numerous awards — Makuhari Grand Prix, Fashion Award, Tokyo 2000; Best Designer Indian wear, Marie Claire Fashion Awards 2010; Designer Of The Year- Menswear, Vogue; Power List, 2019 — he has also dressed numerous Bollywood celebrities.
Talking about his journey that he describes as “amazing”, the couturier tells indianexpress.com about his idea of fashion, the effects of the pandemic on the industry, the celebrities he really wishes to design for, and post-pandemic style. Experts:
You have been an integral part of the fashion industry for nearly two decades now. How would you describe your journey?
My god, that sounds so old when you say that. Well, I started out pretty young and Indian fashion industry is still evolving, and in the last two decades I have definitely come a long way as a learner. There are international influences, and people have become much more open in different aspects of fashion. It’s like how we take the saree down and put on a saree gown instead. The culture is able to accept a wide reach and that’s the most important shift, according to me, in the last decade. In these last two decades, fashion has become a lot more structured. There are now more cities where we would want to see our stores. But it still has a long way to go if you ask me, especially in terms of infrastructure.
My journey has been amazing so far. I have been very fortunate to receive a lot of love, from a day in the street and the public at large and it’s been a very interesting cultural dialogue with me, with people, media and they have helped me define, almost create a cultural shift, a new haute Indian culture, which is much more open ended and open minded.
What does fashion mean in its truest form?
Fashion is a celebration of one’s personality and choices. Fashion transcends beyond beautiful couture to finding inspiration in surrealism and magic realism, something that my work reflects. I find myself going back to beauty in art and architecture, abstraction and magic. It is about creating a new culture, a new thinking — whether it is through our design, forms or shape. To me, It’s all about breaking the stereotypes, being sure of who you are, and expressing the same through your work.
I have always concentrated on treating every collection as art, and it has given me joy in exploring the unconventional through our Avant-garde couture. My team and I have always steered clear from doing the obvious and are committed to being progressive.
As a jury member on ‘The Showcase’ what will be the first five things you will look for in a talent?
I am looking for an individual who will echo the vision for the platform and help us redefine the future of the fashion industry. I am expecting young designers to be proud of who they are, be original, to be able to express themselves and be inquisitive. I am expecting their individuality, passion and curiosity to show through their craft.
What, according to you, is needed to become a successful fashion designer?
The first thing is to have a business plan. It is very important to have a viable business plan. The success comes from the right people and one should not be scared of finances and P&L sheets and in fact one should adapt themselves to understand the business goals. The second thing is to work out your strengths, find your own unique selling point and always aim for quality.
Much like everything else, the pandemic has also affected the fashion industry. But what do you think has been the biggest impact?
I think the biggest impact has been the fact that a lot of crafts people have lost their jobs. In different sectors and micro sectors all over the country, the specialised people who take care of the craft have not had business in almost two years. That has affected almost everyone in the country, and we are all trying to bring new ideas to support them. Another thing that has come across is the awareness about sustainability. Now each consumer and maker wants to work in ways that are much cleaner than they previously did.
What has been the biggest change in the industry in the post-Covid times?
Post-pandemic fashion will be more inclusive and accessible. With virtual shows and fashion films, the fashion industry was able to reach out to the masses and create a wholesome experience for everyone and not just the front row seats. Comfort fashion will be in style for a while because people have understood the value of comfort while working from home, but at the same time when they plan to step out to celebrate or party or for any occasion, they would want to dress up and go over the top. Having said that, it is going to be a formula of each to its own and people will dress up more individualistically. With sustainability and vocal for local being buzzwords, the entire fashion community — including designers, influencers — would have to steer the wheel and adapt, thus doing their bit towards creating a better tomorrow.
Fashion evolves; do you think the current time will also find its way into fashion in any way (eg: masks)? If yes, how?
Well, yes, I do think extreme situations can spark extreme creativity. New directions will come up, both like the revenge fashion extreme and the extreme sustainability direction. Both will emerge over a period, for a while.
If there was one thing you could say (based on your experiences) to an upcoming talent on the platform, what would it be and why?
The right attitude and confidence are integral when you need to seize the stage. Just be yourself – original, innovative and of course, have an individual sense of style.
You have also had a long association with Bollywood. Which actor do you feel carries off your outfits the best?
Ayushman Khurana! His style is quirky and carries extremes nonchalantly.
One person you really wish to design for and why, and what would you like to create for them?
I would love to design for Sonam Kapoor. She carries both India and fashion in superlative ways. I would also love to design for Katy Perry. And I will create something that’s an amalgamation of my personality and theirs.
The pandemic forced the fashion industry to go digital — what is your take on virtual vs physical shows?
Even though we miss the adrenaline and grandeur attached to physical shows and platforms, we have realised and accepted that we live in a digital world and the potential it has. We can reach millions of people and recreate the magic of physical shows at home. Platforms like the Blenders Pride Fashion Tour ‘The Showcase’ will be progressive for the fashion ecosystem and the association with FDCI will help in bridging the gap to create a unified platform that encompasses diverse creative fields.