Rohit Bal, one of the most sought after fashion designers, popularly known as the ‘master of fabric and fantasy’, gets candid and talks about the current fashion industry and his journey as a designer
What is your design philosophy?
For me, the most important word is elegance. I also give importance to certain styles that are understated, craft based and extremely Indian. Nothing that I do has any western influences. Everything I do has a very strong soul of India; so my design philosophy says that I am an Indian and I like making Indian designs; also, all my designs are hand crafted and at the end of the day, the soul of India should be represented in my collections.
What new techniques and materials are you using?
We are using the opposite of new techniques. We are focusing on age old techniques—those that are long forgotten. We are reviving techniques that used to be an important part of Indian subcontinent. So instead of doing something new, I am using techniques that were used many hundreds of years ago. I am trying to bring back what is lost to India.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion for me is a very integral part of lifestyle. Fashion doesn’t mean wearing fancy clothes. It’s about the way you live, your lifestyle, your home, the food you eat, the car you drive, the life you lead; it’s really about your entire life. Fashion is in fact, a necessary evil.
During your formative years, who has been your muse?
When I started out as a fashion designer, I was influenced greatly by a very dear friend, Rohit Khosla. He was my inspiration and my muse.
Most fashion designers are now diversifying into other areas besides fashion. What’s your take on this and how important is it to diversify for creative expression as well as to scale up the business?
I might have been amongst the first ones to have done that. The reason why you do this is because you want your creativity to be experimented and expressed in other mediums rather than what you normally do with fashion. A creative person absolutely must do as many creative things as possible; whether it is designing homes, cars, product designs, etc. A designer should give his creativity another platform. It is a natural progression and extremely important.
What is the future of couture in India?
I think the future of fashion in India is couture and nothing else. In India there are enough international brands. But what we designers do is very up market and occasion wear; whether it is weddings or parties. So, I think couture has a great potential in India.
What was your first design? Do you have any interesting anecdotes in the making of your first piece?
The first design I ever did was for men. The first person who wore those was my friend, Rohit Khosla. The first thing I ever made was a gold tissue bandhgala for men. At that time, such designs were very contemporary and avant-garde.
Way back when you were a student, what inspired you? How did you decide upon this career?
Some very fashionable people used to come visit my college when I was a student. I used to observe some amazing style icons, see their beautiful clothes and get inspired by the likes of them.
How does the business of fashion look like today?
Encouraging. The industry is also getting a little more organised. Earlier this entire industry was very haphazard and not very focused. But now, fashion has become a very important industry.
P.S- Aditi Mahehwari, the author of this story is an avid lifestyle writer who runs a popular decor blog www.pobox9.in