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Wooed by the West

October 06, 2004 13:46 IST

At his debut India Fashion Week in 2002, fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee showcased boxing gloves and turbans inspired by the sex workers of Kolkata's Sonagachi district.

Last year, his cream-and-white collection was inspired by the  "English peasant girl". In this year's show, the 30 outfits in his Frog Princess collection seemed to have the waif on the street in mind.

And now his style of cross-breeding ordinary kitchen linen and mosquito net with silk and chiffon in designing a garment has received critical attention at the Milan Fashion Show 2004-05 that ended earlier this week.

In Milan, Mukherjee showed more than 30 new variations of his Frog Princess collection. That his work was appreciated is evident from the fact that one of the garments was selected for an editorial feature in Vogue's London edition. That is not all.

Several European fashion stores are clamouring to stock his goods. While Browns, the upmarket London store will start retailing his garments from February 2005, Mukherjee is currently negotiating with another Milan high street store called Biffy.

But the 1999 Nift Kolkata graduate wants to tread the overseas markets cautiously.  "Several stores have approached me but I will try to avoid the middle market stores as much as I can," he adds.

Back home, his demand is soaring. The film industry is already tapping him for business and, recently, he created the dresses for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film 'Black'. Also, an Ahmedabad-based apparel brand has approached him to design a menswear line.

But Mukherjee says that he's just about understanding the nuances of business and would like to grow slowly. "You can't build a brand overnight. It has to be a slow process," he says.

Currently, Mukherjee's company -- Sabyasachi Couture -- employs about 40-odd karigaars and tailors. His clothes are sold at Carma and Ogaan in Delhi, Espee and Intrigue in Kolkata and Origins and Oorja in Hyderabad.
Maitreyee Handique in New Delhi