From ditching the eponymous, half-sleeved Modi kurta to going the more formal way with monochrome bandhgalas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often been in news for being wardrobe-conscious. And now, with Mumbai-based designer Troy Costa being revealed as the one to design for the PM’s trip to the United States in September, all eyes are set on what Modi will wear, considering Troy is known for his tuxedos, and does not do ethnicwear.
Costa boasts of an impressive clientele that includes industrialists as well as Bollywood stars such as Hrithik Roshan, Shahid Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Anil Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar, Ayushmann Khurrana and Virr Das. He has shown his creations multiple times at Dubai Fashion Week, and while actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui was the showstopper for his show last year in Mumbai, industrialist Akash Ambani and tennis player Leander Paes have also donned his designs. Sound designer and expert Resul Pookutty wore Costa’s creation at the 2010 Academy Awards, and actor Irrfan Khan flaunted the label at theToronto International Film Festival, last year.
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We contacted the 39-year-old designer to speak to him about what he has in mind for Modi, but Costa won’t say much as he’d rather his clothes speak. “I’ve had over 200 journalists ask for a quote, but honestly, I’d prefer that my work speaks for itself. I’ve never gone the promotion way and I still believe that your product will open doors for you, not PR. And this time too, I’d like to keep it that way.”
Born and brought up in Mumbai, Costa left home at 17 to fulfill his dreams of learning the art of tailoring. “I come from an average, middle-class family. As a child, I used to love sports and was an avid cricketer. But, my father told me that we didn’t come from a background that would help me pursue my dream of becoming a cricketer. So, at 17, I left home for the United Kingdom to learn pattern making. But because of insufficient funds, I came back. In 2001 — locked in a small room with one tailoring machine — I decided to chase my dream,” he shared.
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“One of my clients told me that the only way you can gain experience, if not in terms of years, is by packing up on the hours. Till date, I work very, very hard. I try and spend up to 15 hours in my workshop to achieve all that I have, and with God’s guidance, I know that the recognition will come. I’m in no hurry.”
Costa now exclusively does menswear, after discontinuing his womenswear label, Helen of Troy, a few years back. He opened his flagship store in 2011 in Mumbai’s Khar West, where he started selling customised footwear in addition to his signature tuxedos, shirts and jackets.
Fashion Design Council of India president, Sunil Sethi, also one of Costa's clients, confesses that the designer has a penchant for sharp menswear. “My first tuxedo actually came from him. I did not even have to give him my measurements, yet his design was spot on. He forayed into the north market a few years back, at the men’s week in the Capital, where he did an excellent show for us. He was not very well known at that time but still got everyone’s attention. Costa is a serious fashion designer who believes more in spending time at the studio than being under the limelight. He is a very God-fearing man,” says Sethi.
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International Woolmark prize winner, designer Rahul Mishra, too, gets custom-made jackets for his wardrobe from Costa. “He is very good in construction, believes in minimalism and has a strong understanding of style, and colour, along with a great sense of proportion. Our PM is known to be fashion savvy and picking Costa to create his wardrobe will work well not only for the designer, but for the Indian fashion industry as well — considering that the PM could have picked any international prêt label to wear. Costa is one of a kind when it comes to bespoke tailoring, and as a person, he is very grounded and passionate about his work,” says Mishra.
Actor and comedian Virr Das has also sported Costa’s designs in the past, and says: “He is nothing short of amazing. His clothes are a perfect mix of contemporary and classic. It's hard to make a comedian look good. He deserves full credit.”