Last month, Vidya Balan made numerous appearances at the Cannes Film Festival in her capacity as a jury member. To say her outfits were put under the fashion scanner would be an understatement. While critics panned her get-ups, often terming them ‘ageing’, ‘boring’ and ‘monotonous’, Vidya and Sabyasachi Mukherjee — the designer behind all the outfits — stayed mum. We caught up with the designer, who will next show at the Grand Finale of Lakme Fashion Week in August, for his take.
How did you react to the negative feedback on Vidya’s looks at Cannes?
I knew what the comments would be even before Vidya went there. I’d told her that the way we were going to dress her up would be a conversation starter, positively or negatively, because people would question it. Having seen the kind of girl Vidya is, the job she was going for and her body type, we felt this was the best option. When you put something out in the public domain, people have a right to react the way they want to. If I overreact to the feedback, I’d be considered immature.
Most of the negative comments were about monotony rather than the outfits. They were beautiful, but similar and repetitive.
Each designer has their own handwriting, be it Chanel, Givenchy, or any Indian designer. It’s just that Vidya had many back-to-back appearances, and she chose to stick to one designer. At one time, we thought she should try more designers. If you’re wearing one person’s clothes head-to-toe, there’s a certain ethos. Iconism (sic) is created through repetition. Whether it’s Audrey Hepburn, Rekha, Frida Kahlo or Simi Garewal, their iconic looks are created with a certain amount of repetition. The point is that if you take an actress who has an image as strong as Vidya’s, you can’t make her change up and down every day just for the sake of change. If someone looks good, they don’t need to reinvent all the time. India is too obsessed with variety, and I don’t subscribe to that theory.
A fair example of variety would be Aishwarya Rai Bachchan at Cannes. She wore one of your designs too, but she changed things up every day.
You have to understand that she and Vidya are different people. Ash loves her clothes; she’s been a beauty ambassador for the longest time. Vidya is a simpleton who became a movie star. For her, acting is more important than clothing. I can’t thrust my opinions and wishes upon actresses. Vidya doesn’t like to experiment much. She’s happy the way she is, and I don’t see any harm in that.