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Indian fashion designer Gaurav Gupta makes his Paris Haute Couture Week debut

Almost 20 years after the launch of his eponymous brand, Indian fashion designer Gaurav Gupta made his much-anticipated debut at Paris Haute Couture Week on Thursday.

The recognition of Gupta at the prestigious event signals the rising international status of a couturier who has long been loved by his Bollywood clientele. The designer’s profile has skyrocketed in the past year, with his sculptural creations being worn by global A-list stars including Cardi B, Lizzo and Kylie Minogue.

At last year’s Oscars, rapper Megan Thee Stallion wore a slate blue bodycon dress custom designed by Gupta that featured a dramatic train that cascaded out like delicate waves. The media coverage it generated “was so beautiful,” he said earlier this week at his temporary showroom near the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

“It has propelled us and given us confidence that as an Indian couture brand we are ready to go global,” added the designer.

Haute Couture Week is a biannual extravaganza where the most exclusive fashions – garments that are meticulously handcrafted and sold at jaw-dropping prices – are paraded down the runways before a star-studded audience. Gupta recalled being on a plane and “about to take off” when he heard his brand had been chosen to feature at the event.

“It was very dramatic,” he said. “I was alone on the plane and for the next two hours I just looked outside and cried. We were just these couturiers and this is the story unfolding before my eyes. This dream has been in the making for 25 years, ever since I started working in fashion.”

building a brand

After graduating from London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Gupta founded his label in 2005. His brother Saurabh joined the company early on. Together they grew the business, opening five boutiques in New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Hyderabad and regularly dressing Bollywood stars, Indian celebrities and brides.

In the beginning, Gupta’s high-concept collections came in more muted tones, subverting what was then being sold in the Indian market. It took some time to convert what he showed on the runway into commercial sales.

“Being a very concept-oriented brand in a very traditional market wasn’t the easiest. Over the years I’ve found a balance in how to develop wearable concepts,” he said.

Fusing what it calls ‘indigenous Indian construction and embellishment techniques’, the label describes itself as ‘Indian at heart’. One of Gupta’s most popular items is his high fashion take on the sari dress. His version transforms the traditional Indian garment, which is basically a rectangular piece of fabric wrapped around the body in a variety of styles, into something distinctly more sexual, he explains, with a Greek-style drape and details like knots and braiding.

A global outlook

Gupta and his team have been working on the Paris couture presentation for the past six months, from developing concepts and sketches to sourcing, dyeing and embroidering fabrics. The label is also gearing up for buyer visits to the Paris showroom, where its evening collection, currently distributed through Moda Operandi, will be on display. American retailer Neiman Marcus will also carry the brand’s designs, and Gupta is excited about the challenge of expanding its presence in the West.

“America is huge and we’ll be stocked with the best players out there,” Gupta said. “It was a nice step forward to have celebrity collaborations – cultural collaborations, I like to call them – and (in parallel) having our agents do sales. It’s a 360 degree plan.”

The idea of ​​’Shunya’, the Sanskrit word for zero, was the starting point for the label’s debut collection at Haute Couture Week.

“When zero was discovered… the world expanded to infinity. Time wasn’t linear anymore,” Gupta said, adding that the exploration of space and time inspired the collection.

Thursday’s runway show kicked off with a series of extreme silhouettes in sensual textures. Several looks featured swan-like wings that twirled around the models’ shoulders and hips before falling to the floor. The ensembles have been crafted from Indian handwoven and handwoven fabrics, shaped using the label’s embellishing techniques and embroidered with crystals, lending each gown an effervescent sensibility.

An eruption of indigo blue pieces followed. Powerful statements in their own right, each look was designed in the same shade from head to toe and paired with matching leggings boots which seemed to fit the models like a second skin.

Then followed a parade of nude illusion dresses, with intricate black embellishments strategically placed over sheer, nude tulle. Color accents followed in the form of silver, black and neon yellow dresses. A series of black and gold creations closed the show.

“When people see my collections, they say, ‘Your clothes are very beautiful, but they are not very Indian,’ which is not true,” Gupta said.

“There’s a sense of fluid form, maximalism, the techniques and the craft – all of it is Indian. I want to challenge the perception of the words ‘India’ or ‘Indianism’.”

Caption above: Model Coco Rocha and designer Gaurav Gupta pose backstage before the Gaurav Gupta Haute Couture Spring Summer 2023 show on January 26, 2023 in Paris, France.

The CNN Wire

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