NEW DELHI, India — A double billing greeted the audience as the couture shows here opened Wednesday: French designer Christian Louboutin in collaboration with Kolkata-based Sabyasachi Mukherjee shared a moment of creative chemistry on the runway.
Amazon India Couture Week, a five-day event, will run until Sunday at Taj Palace hotel. The event is organized by the Fashion Design Council of India. Amazon India has stepped in as sponsor for the first time this season. The e-tailer also stepped in as sponsor for India Fashion Week in March, which is organized twice a year in New Delhi by FDCI.
“India creates a lot of possibilities. It was very interesting to work with someone like Sabyasachi because he knows so exactly what his customer wants,” Louboutin told WWD. As women surrounded him, many with suggestions for creating an even more perfect shoe — a customer approached him asking for lower, wedge heels, which were more mindful of a customer’s age — Louboutin said simply: “I never think of India as a business, but rather as a place that I love.”
The show was also indicative of a turning point in Sabyasachi’s own design journey, making a concession towards glamour. While his designs focus on handcrafted textiles and a wide range of embroideries, with this show he appeared to embrace change.
“People describe my brand in many ways — but they often use words such as matronly, frumpy, intellectual, shabby chic, cultural, nerdy, intellectual, I can go on and on,” said Sabyasachi. “When you try to do something that people perceive as mainstream glamour, they say — ‘skin show,’ and think that you have sold your soul.”
Asked if that was, in fact, what he had done, Sabyasachi quickly said, “The country is evolving, it’s a very young country, people are spending lots of money to look beautiful, to be fit. And you know I’m not saying you have to tweak or mold yourself to the wants of the customer, but it’s also not nice to be arrogant to what the customer really wants. So I wanted to do clothes that were sexual; I wanted to do clothes that were glamorous.”
Sunil Sethi, president of the FDCI, said, “It doesn’t get better than this. Sabyasachi has come up with a new concept, it was a great opening show.”
The creative chemistry was apparent as both Louboutin and Sabyasachi came on the runway at the end of the show, and later Sabyasachi said that Louboutin was his showstopper.
Bollywood stars are often the showstoppers for fashion events, and a bevy of well-known film stars are expected at the couture week, including actress Aishwarya Rai Bachan at Manish Malhotra’s show Sunday.
Louboutin has two stores in India — in New Delhi and Mumbai — and has done several India-inspired creations. He told WWD that the business aspects of the collection from the runway were yet to be worked out. Speculation that the line would retail at both Sabyasachi and Louboutin stores in India would be confirmed as the business ideas were consolidated, he said, adding that “until now we have only focused that they be nice and beautiful. We still have to think this through.”
The collaboration began simply enough — with a chance meeting between the two designers at the Sabyasachi store in Mumbai.
“It was a happy coincidence,” Sabyasachi explained. “I’m usually never in the store in Bombay. I told him I really liked the way he had grown his brand — and he said he really liked my brand too. So I, being an opportunist, just said, let’s do it then — let’s work together.”