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That call of The Valley

Zubair Kirmani, from Kashmir, on his association with the Bloomingdale store.. interviewed by Nisha Kundnani.

fashion and trends Updated: Jun 08, 2007 17:51 IST
Nisha Kundnani

Just a few years ago, Zubair Kirmani was struggling to make a mark in Delhi. He was so scared when he started off that he only designed shirts. In fact, he had thought he would land up wearing them, because "there were no buyers."

Today, he has found patronage in the U S-based store, Bloomingdale.

The news couldn't have come at a more appropriate time.. after he made his debut at the Delhi Fashion Week this year, Zubair has become the toast of the fashion fraternity .

Rumour is that the Bloomingdale store has made enquiries about your collection.
Yes, that's true. They've taken samples of my work.. from what I hear, they are happy with what I did. Bloomingdale has also picked up other designers from India.

Can you name them?
(Laughs) Sorry, I can't. They are still working out the deal.

How's the fashion fraternity treating you after the Delhi Fashion Week?
I've got positive feedback from the designers who matter. It did take time for me to get noticed, but it has eventually happened.

All thanks to the Delhi Fashion Week But Mumbai is where I've started selling most of my outfits. In fact, I have began supplying to Melange.

How come you haven't captured the quintessential style of Delhi in your work.. bling and flamboyance?
As a newcomer, it's best to stick to simplicity.

My focus is to make my footing strong and get people to notice my signature style. You live in cosmopolitan Delhi. How do you connect your work to your roots?

It's a natural process. I may live and work in Delhi, but my heart and soul belong to Kashmir. When I started off, I did things that everyone else was doing. It did not work for me.. I couldn't sell a single outfit. I went back to Kashmir and captured its essence in my work. Ever since, I've met with success.

The subtleness comes from the place, its beauty.. I'm a Muslim and Islamic art has a lot of geometric motifs. I don't deliberately try and incorporate all that in my work, but inspiration and thoughts just flow.

The valleys of Kashmir influence your work?
Yes. There's so much inspiration that comes from my place. I also feel that it needs to be promoted.. we've seen so much of suffering. That's why my colour palette is black, grey and white , black because of the darkness and gloom, grey because of the weather and white for the virtue of being a positive colour.

What does Bounipan, your label, mean?
Bounipan is the Kashmiri word for its famous Chinar leaf. When I was in school, I would take up fabric painting for summer holidays.

And during summers, Kashmir looks beautiful with chinar leaves all around. I would find it romantic and inspiring to paint the leaves. Bounipan has stayed with me through the years.

Why doesn't Kashmir produce more designers?
(Laughs) We are more popular for producing models than designers. To answer your question, I guess it's an untouched place. There is less exposure to the outside world. We don't have access to fashion.

When I was in school, the only exposure I had access to was via magazines.

Your work has a strong resemblance to designers Abraham and Thakore and Rajesh Pratap Singh.
In fact, I look up to them.