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A bullied child turned fashion designer

By ANITA AIKARA
March 15, 2021 09:45 IST
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'Fashion will be more clean, minimal, utility-oriented.'

GenNext designer Rahul Dasgupta chose to turn his nasty childhood experiences into a stunning collection.

A graduate from National Institute of Fashion Technology in Kolkata, his collection The Missing Child was an attempt to try and outline a childhood he wish he had.

"While growing up, all I remember were the bullies in school and the trauma that I used to face on roads; relatives complaining about me not acting like a 'man'," remembers the 31 year old.

"Now when I look back, I wonder why I only think of those memories," he adds.

After setting up his label during the lockdown, the Kolkata-basedd designer is all set to introduce his seven-month-old brand to the world at the FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week.

Rahul has created eight stunning silhouettes based on the sea for the coming fashion week.

"The whole collection tells you a story," he says. "In my previous collection, I used my creative surface development technique on a smaller surface, but in this collection, I went all out and filled the entire piece of clothing with it."

In an interview with Anita Aikara/Rediff.com, Rahul shares his design inspiration, childhood memories, idea of sustainability and the leader he'd love to dress.

IMAGE: A silhouette from the designer's coming collection.
All photographs: Kind courtesy Lakme Fashion Week

Your design inspiration?

I look for inspiration from everyday experiences.

The joy, sorrow, melancholy I experience inspires me to create new designs.

There is no person or object that I draw my inspiration from, it's always within my mind.

Starting a label during the lockdown.

It was not a conscious choice, but an outcome of the situation.

This was my third attempt. During my previous two attempts, I failed to plan every step correctly.

During my third attempt, I had planned to start my own studio and introduce my collection in March 2020.

A design team was formed, more people were recruited, and my collection was ready to be photographed, and then suddenly the lockdown was declared.

I thought I wouldn't survive to keep my label running, but I managed and now there is no looking back.

Once the lockdown got lifted, I was able to complete the photoshoot and I launched my studio in August 2020.

The first outfit you created?

It was a shirt with a misplaced sleeve.

A conceptual garment, it was made from satin organza and chanderi.

It spoke a lot about my childhood experiences, so it will always remain very special and close to me.

IMAGE: Even coronavirus couldn't stop Rahul Dasgupta, above, from launching his label.

Was your collection The Missing Child inspired by your childhood experiences?

Yes! While growing up, all I remember were the bullies in school and the trauma that I used to face on roads; relatives complaining about me not acting like a "man".

Now when I look back, I wonder why I only think of those memories.

Why can't I think of a child playing in broad daylight? Happy, joyful, and living life to the fullest? Without shame, worries and inhibitions?

I felt the need to find that happy child who got lost in this maze.

That collection was based on my journey; it was my attempt to try and outline a childhood I wish I had.

How would you define your style?

My style is more modern chic with maximalist details imbibed in clean minimal lines. 

What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion is a form of self-expression for me.

I like to dress and create designs according to my mood and thoughts at that time.

What sets your FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week collection apart?

The collection that I will be showcasing at the FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week this season is coined by a quarantined mind that was longing to travel.

It is inspired by the sea. In this collection of eight pieces, each piece reflects different facets of the seascape.

It starts with the waves dying down at your feet creating white foam, and as the eyes travel further, you see those waves becoming stronger and blending at the horizon with a glorious sunrise.

It is a visual interpretation of how the human eye perceive the sea.

A lot of effort that has gone into each piece.

I work with slow fashion. The creative surface development technique that I use takes enormous effort and time.

In my previous collection, I used my creative surface development technique on a smaller surface, but in this collection, I went all out and filled the entire piece of clothing with it. That's a lot.

However, that's my USP. That is what sets this collection apart.

It looks simple, but the closer you go into it, you will constantly be exploring something new.

IMAGE: The designer unveiled his collection The Missing Child in 2019.

Do you feel that artisans in India often go unrecognised?

We, designers, are so overwhelmed in our own worlds that we often miss out on the people who execute our work.

Three things that I strongly believe can bring the artisans on the mainstage are fair wages, right credit, and compassion.

We need to be compassionate to the people we are working with, and equally respect their craft.

A design can never be just crafted by one person.

It takes hard work by a team of people to get one design finished and it's important to address the people involved in the process.

Your idea of sustainability?

According to me, sustainability comes from being fair to the people who deserve to be given due recognition.

Along with that I like to make sure that material utilisation is optimum, and leftovers are upcycled.

Which fabrics would you like to revive if given a chance?

Bengal muslin and Jamdani.

One politician you'd like to see wearing your clothes?

Justin Trudeau, as his style is classy but not boring.

I love his fun play with socks. This resonates with the kind of pieces that I create.

It's clean and chic and has its own bits of fun. It will be nice to see him wearing one of my designs.

Trends for 2021?

In 2021, people are still waiting to go back to their normal lives.

So, everything's still very desaturated.

I believe fashion will be more clean, minimal, utility-oriented; athleisure will be the next big trend.

This would impact the fashion scenario all over the world as we move into fitness clothing and athleisure.

A designer whose work you admire?

Alexander McQueen! I admire and envy him as he has created such amazing artwork.

He showcases creativity and craftsmanship at its best.

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ANITA AIKARA / Rediff.com