Gaurav Gupta, the couturier synonymous with sculpted-to-seduce evening gowns, look-at-me diaphanous dresses and theatrical trouser suits, has been called upon by Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode as a guest member to showcase at the Haute Couture Week in Paris in January.
"For the first showcase we wanted to make it very Gaurav Gupta, very on brand, very true to ourselves. It’s like defining our language-scape in the world. All I can say for now is that there will be some expected and unexpected drama," says the designer, who's dressed the likes of Fan Bing Bing, Lizzo, Kylie Minogue, Cardi B, Megan thee Stallion and Jennifer Hudson.
In an interview with Lounge, the designer talks about his take on modern-day couture and its changing definition. Edited excerpts:
How does it feel to be showcasing at the Paris couture week for the first time?
Paris couture week is the ultimate platform for creativity and expression. I feel extremely honoured to be invited by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode. It is a very proud moment for the brand, and it does feel surreal, and I am overjoyed with this news in a sense that it is the next chapter for the brand towards a much larger global footprint.
What does couture mean to you? It’s often loosely used in the Indian fashion scene…
Yes, you are correct that it is quite loosely used in the Indian fashion scene. Since childhood I have admired the history and the art of haute couture in and from Paris. While studying womenswear at Central Saint Martins, I remember attending a few presentations in Paris, and it only reaffirmed my belief in the art of couture and how it drives culture. Couture, for me, is a process first, which is extremely artistic, it is conceptual and artistic. Couture, for me, isn’t just an art form; it is when fashion truly becomes art and art transforms into fashion as well.
Do you have an atelier in France crafting the pieces for this showcase?
As of now, we have built an amazing atelier in India and we are building all our couture in-house. But we do plan to expand horizons and are currently collaborating with some partners in France, who are stylists, communications partners.
Could you share details of the garment which took a maximum number of hours to come to life?
Well, some garments do take up to 10,000-man hours. The artisans and craftsmen from India have always fascinated me, they carry history and time, and at our atelier we collaborate with them to form new languages of crafts. It is always an exhilarating process; and I feel it’s not just the actual garment which takes time, I feel like it is the actual process of designing and redesigning that is the process.
For me, couture is a constant process that is going on in one’s mind, which translates in different forms while making a collection. For me, each piece is a project and that is why even our couture in India is extremely detailed and driven by the processes of design.
India has always inspired global couturiers. Maria Grazia Chiuri often collaborates with Indian artisans and Chanel had showcased a Paris Bombay collection a while ago. How much Indianness embodies this outing?
Well, I am Indian, and there is Indianness to the collection but not in a very obvious way. Having said that, there is a very strong Indian inspiration.
Who is the global couture buyer in the pandemic era? What are the new demands of the couture market?
Yes, couture is going through a lot of change and the definition of couture is also going under a lot of change. It is not necessarily gowns and evening wear. As lifestyles and cultures of people are changing, that’s how the consumption of couture is also changing in the world. I think it’s almost like every brand has its own kind of bias, and the correct couture brand make their own couture culture in the globe and then over seasons the progression happen where you find a couture bag, or a couture sweatshirt or a couture shoe or a couture sneaker. So, you know it can really go in any direction.
After this showcase, do you also plan to expand globally in terms of retail?
Yes, it will happen in due course of time. We are already partnering and in talks with some of our retail partners who will be housing our brand and selling for us globally.