Kolkata has been at the epicenter of the cultural revolution in India. From its literary, artistic, scholastic thought and revolutionary heritage to its graffiti, cinema, literature, drama, cuisine and more importantly, fashion and design aesthetic. Over the past few decades, Kolkata has produced some of the most cutting-edge, contemporary and heritage-promoting designers in the country. Below are a few which we would like to showcase and promote.
Sabyasachi Mukherjee: P-545 Lake Road. Kol-29. Ph: 033 40648239. Mobile: 9830005953; and for Bridal Wear: 80/2 Topsia Road, Maruti Bagan, Kol - 46. Ph: 9836043953; email: email@example.com; website: www.sabyasachi.com
Anamika Khanna: 2/1, Outram Street, Kol - 17. Ph: 033 22814425, 033 22896128, 09903379127; website: www.anamikakhanna.in
Dev R Nil: Unit 3, Remount Warehouses, 144, Remount Road, near Remount Station, Majherhat, Mominpur, Kolkata - 27. Ph: 08820677077; website: www.devnil.com
Ritu Kumar: Ritika Pvt.Ltd, Woodburn Court Road, Kol - 20. Ph: 033 2283 7310. Shop No. 216, 33, Quest Mall, Syed Amir Ali Avenue, Kol - 17. Ph: 033 4064 1004; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.ritukumar.com
Shantanu Goenka: 21, Vrindavan Gardens, 98 Christopher Road, 5th Floor, Kol - 46. Ph: 033 3093 5339; 09831061585; email: email@example.com
Sabyasachi (Sabya) believes in the personalized imperfection of the human hand. He uses unusual fabrics, texturing and detailing, 'fusion' of styles, 'patch-worked' with gorgeous embellishments in a vibrant diverse color palette to make the feeling of going back to the ‘soul'. He pioneered the use of Indian textiles, albeit in a modern context. His unique contribution has been the use of indigenous methods such as zardozi, bandhani, gota work, block printing, hand dyeing etc in construction of modern silhouettes. His signature style is originality, as he moves between stunningly crafted bridal wear and perfectly structured western statements. The designer draws his inspiration from art such as the color scapes of French impressionists like Monet and Henry Matisse in his clothes. International designs with an Indian soul, his collection is for people who prefer to walk a path less traveled and who definitely believe that slowing down is not equivalent to dropping out.
Anamika Khanna has had no professional training. Despite this fact she was among the first to show at Paris Fashion Week. She has revived the Indian handicraft techniques and also changed the way we look at the sari, kurta and the dhoti. She produces both, ready to wear and bridal lines. The flawless flow of drapes and layers in Anamika Khanna dresses complements the beauteous style of contemporary women. This couturier from Kolkata is an initiator for flamboyant Indian dressing, pampering the femininity with well-cut silhouettes and a characteristic love for layers and black, white and gold colors. The apt mix of intricate hand-embroideries with quirky prints adds the oomph and grace of her clothing. All her ravishing outfits have fine cuts, impeccable embroideries and a graceful color palette, making her collections international in appeal.
Kiran Uttam Ghosh – If not jewelry (beaten silver cuffs, collars, chunky chokers, ear-cuffs), Kiran plays around with the idea of textures inspired from the jewelry − silver filigree work, delicate motifs and finer embroidery materials.
Kiran offers the discerning woman a complete range of prêt, couture and accessories. Her collection combines understated classic elegance with contemporary flair, shaped silhouettes and drapes with ‘in your face’ colors. The range of women’s wear includes kurtas, lehengas, shararas, sarees, sarongs and kurtis in her signature ‘techno’ colors with a strong, slim silhouette. The accessories include a funky line of handbags and mules to wrap up the ‘In style’ look. From the business fashion house view point her forte is a steady, wearable, commercial line with a wide range of designs to choose from. Kiran caters to a wide range of preferences and a wider range of budgets.
Dev R Nil – Dev and Nil are fashion graduates from India and Australia respectively. They started in Kolkata in 2004 and play with fabric textures, prints, colors, patterns and everything else crazy. They style for both men and women, ranging from casual to formals in Indian and western wear along with the bridal ensemble. DRN as it is popularly known - is quirky with class, quality with thoughtfulness, simple with layered complexity. They organically evolve their in-house weaves, prints and textures every season.
Some of the looks which have been show-cased by them are prints merging with embroidery crafted on base fabric of chanderi. Along with this, organza, French chiffon, crêpes and net all add to the glamor of their clothing. Dev R Nil are famous for their use of weaves. Together, a sense of edginess and beauty flows in shades of nude, off-white, tangerine, cobalt blue and sensuous black over bomber jackets, dresses, paneled palazzo, T-shirts, shirts, trousers and waistcoats.
Ritu Kumar – Kumar began her fashion business in Kolkata. Beginning with bridal wear and evening clothes in the 1960s and 70s, she eventually moved into the international market in the subsequent decades. Ritu's designs focus on natural fabrics and traditional printing and weaving techniques. She has also included Western elements in her work, but has generally not innovated beyond the traditional sari designs. Ritu Kumar is the largest and most respected designer-wear brand in India today. Since 1969, the brand has developed a unique style of its own, reflecting the ancient traditions of Indian craftsmanship in a contemporary vocabulary. Ritu’s understanding of ancient designs and the innovative use of traditional crafts has created a new classicism. Today the company is renowned for its distinctive use of colors, quality of fabrics, intricate embroideries and a gloriously rich Indian aesthetic.
Shantanu Goenka – Shantanu was an alumnus of NIFT Kolkata's inaugural batch and won an award for the most creative designer. He interned with fashion guru JJ Vallaya and today has managed to realize his dreams of creating beautiful clothes through his own label. His forte is Indian trousseau and bridal wear for women. He does some menswear occasionally though only on request. Apart from his couture line, he has also launched his prêt and diffusion lines that have been highly appreciated. Shantanu’s clothes have a very glamorous feel to them. A lot of pieces from his collections are jewelry inspired and take us back in time; with age-old embroideries, color, fabric, silhouettes and styling. Even his approach towards prêt is very different, as he puts in a lot of meaning into each manufactured piece. Swarovski components are a part of most of his outfits, be it in detailing or delicate trimming. It is because of this that he is the only designer in Kolkata to have signed a quality branding contract with the company.
Mona Pali – Mona Lamba and Pali Sachdev are sisters who share a great professional relationship. They started in Calcutta in 1987 and have since opened stores in Delhi and Ahmedabad. Weaving a world of illusion Monapali create enigma in their collection. An effusive palette of charcoal, earth, brown and cream inter-mingle with primary colors to create an illusion of the wild. The great textural tale is of the essence as Monapali mix diffused prints with textured fabrics. To capture the essence of prêt, embroideries and embellishments turn minimal with an array of surface ornamentation getting high-lighted by clean detailing.
Kallol Datta – After growing up in the Middle East, Kallol developed an aversion to bling and shine. Now a regular at New Delhi and Mumbai Fashion Week, his label has a strong retail presence on the subcontinent. The Kolkata-based designer has become synonymous with a certain kind of deconstructed, anti-fit style which states that his collections do not veer too far from his sensibilities. And because his creations are popularly perceived as bold and provocative, they cater to more mature women, who are above a certain age.
Abhishek Dutta – Abhishek Dutta is already a glittering star on Kolkata's fashion firmament. After receiving the most creative design award at his graduation show Enter'acte 99, Abhishek went on to bag the award at the Smirnoff International Fashion Awards (SIFA) in 1999. Abhishek’s distinctive style is the fusion of ancient embroidery with futuristic cuts. He loves working with handloom and natural fabrics and experiments with asymmetrical cuts. The label personifies an unmistakable combination of bohemian freedom with subtle sensitivity. There is originality and a lot of creativity, which is portrayed in his garments. Class, style and the allure of mystery is what the designer label has to offer.
Jaya Rathore – Jaya Rathore’s knowledge of Indian forms and traditional Indian textile craft has fueled her explorations of heritage embroideries and weaves. These age-old techniques are brought to life on contemporary silhouettes. Her work is full of traditional and ethnic elegance combined with ethnic looks. She always tries to stick to heritage and the craftwork of the olden days. Her garments represent the intrinsic value of the Indian culture. Her texture details, wearable weaves and clean finish in her attires reflect her ingenuity.
Kolkata has been at the epicenter of the cultural revolution in India. From its literary, artistic, scholastic thought and revolutionary heritage to its graffiti, cinema, literature, drama, cuisine and more importantly, fashion and design aesthetic. Over the past few decades, Kolkata has produced some of the most cut
What to read next