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'Stop copying West'

Stylist Sabyasachi Mukherjee warns that if designers do not hold on to Indian heritage, it will soon be lost for ever.

india Updated: Oct 13, 2008 16:38 IST

At a time when most Indian designers draw inspiration from the West, stylist Sabyasachi Mukherjee warns that if they do not hold on to Indian heritage, it will soon be lost for ever.

"It is a shame that designers are moving away from India's rich culture and heritage and aping the West for their creations. Most of them are influenced by French couture but they do not know what Indian couture is all about," Mukherjee told IANS in an interview.

"Why can't we take references from our own country to create something exclusive?," he wondered.

The 28-year-old Kolkata-based Mukherjee, with his collection being "an international styling with an Indian soul", is a diehard fan of Indian traditions and culture and specializes in Indian traditional wear, bridal wear, Western wear and Indo-Western wear.

He has also designed for the movies Black (2005) - for which he received a National Award - and Laaga Chunri Mein Daag (2007). He will also design costumes for Mani Ratnam's upcoming movie Raavana that stars Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Mukherjee particularly lamented the lack of Indian traditions in what most desginers churn out in the name of bridal wear.

"Weddings in India have become completely transformed. There is a Western interpretation of Indian beauty and you can't tell where the brides have come from. They are decked up in Moroccan, Egyptian and European styles but not as traditional Indian brides," he asserted.

"On D-day, young women want to look different and beautiful and so they experiment with different looks except with an Indian look. They don't even know how elegant an Indian bride used to look in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s," he added.

Even so, he was happy that traditions were alive in southern India in spite of globalization and Western influences.

"South India excites me because much of India is still very much alive there. They celebrate Indian culture and have held on to culture like the Japanese have. This is really remarkable," Mukherjee stated.

According to the designer, fashion has become a "disease" in India and everyone is running after money.

"Creativity has died and nothing new is coming up in the market. The main aim of designers is to lure consumers at the stake of creativity," Mukherjee explained.

"Commerce is playing a pivotal role in the system and the art is dying," he added.

"We glorify our nation to the hilt but we do nothing to pay attention to Indian textiles, handicrafts and handlooms," he rued.

Mukherjee, who hitherto has been known for dressing women elegantly, will soon foray into dressing men like men in India like they once used to.

"The line will have outfits that will portray a cultured and educated man - the one who has tehzeeb (manners). The way most men dress up these days is either outrageous or boring," he maintained.

"There will be a heavy Indian quotient in the line and it will be very bold in terms of textiles. You just wait and watch," he said.

First Published: Oct 13, 2008 11:45 IST