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Friday, September 14, 2012

Male Version

By Jaydip Majumder
Photography: Courtesy Sharbari Datta


“Like the artist, who cannot plan her brushstrokes, I, too, let the future unfold as it comes,” says designer Sharbari Datta as she gets retrospective about her calling in the male fashion domain.

“I am like the folk artist who is self taught, unstructured and impromptu,” says celebrated fashion designer, Sharbari Datta, who has virtually transformed the traditional male fashion scenario over the last two decades.

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Looking back, the celebrated designer reminisces how her childhood passion for doodling grew into a full-fledged design program for niche traditional menswear, making her instrumental in charting its course.

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She took the first tentative bold steps towards emancipating men from a rather staid wardrobe of stripes and checks with an occasional silk tie thrown in, by introducing them to designer shawls, kurtas with folk art designs round the collar and sleeves, etc., showcasing the magic that traditional motifs could weave on male attire. Fabulous bandhgalas and Pirans, exotic kurtas, flowing shawls and intricately stitched angrakhas of the early ’90s made quite a few waves in the men’s fashion circle, thanks to her. Emboldened by the success of her initial forays, she began to embellish complete garments in her signature style.

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Sharbari designs with a vengeance. The designer draws directly on cloth, impromptu, without prelims, preserving no copy for afterwards. Repetition is, therefore, impossible. Attributing this facet to her early training in art, her designs depict a distinct oriental influence. “If you flip through the pages of history, you will see that right from Mohen jo Daro to the Mughal era, men donned flashy dresses. I have been influenced by the art of the period,” she affirms.

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Her designs sometimes comprise cave and folk art; at other times, Egyptian murals; then there are calligraphic impressions of West and East Asia. Still Life, Pop Art and Picasso, miniatures, Hindu mythology are sources of inspiration as well and what’s interesting, none of these are copied, but recalled and re-invented with insouciant artistry so that their traditional identities are not lost in new creations.

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Somewhere along the way, as if by natural progression, has emerged her need to dress up men in more than just fabric.  Two decades and on-the-move, Sharbari Datta is ushering in the edge into men’s jewellery in gold and diamonds; much akin to her stand-alone designs on menswear. The lady is all out to redefine the modern male with traditional values in attire and accessories, underlining the modern wrap.

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