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Published: Verve Magazine, Nerve, May 2010

The connection between fashion and art is an old one; international trends can be written in no less than multiple coffee-table books. Verve speaks to four top Indian fashion designers who show obvious influences of art in their designs




On the connect “There has always been a connection between art and fashion. Chanel loved Cubism. Schiaparelli loved Surrealism. And Yves Saint Laurent paid tribute to many artists: Braque, Picasso, Mondrian. Art and fashion are both provocative and often intrigue the general public.”

In my designs “I have used art as an influence not just from the Western world but also from an Asian perspective. I have collaborated with Goan artist Theodore Mesquitta; and did an installation for Habitat Centre (Alka Pande). In fact, I know one day I will paint.”

Fashion as a work of art “Fashion is at the lowest rung of the pure art ladder. Our clothes certainly are a form of art. To elevate them to pure art though is being overly ambitious. Fashion can become art in the hands of Alexander McQueen or Hussain Chalayan who look at clothing and shows as art to begin with. But in most cases, fashion is not art.”



On the connect “Anything in life has two possibilities – either you can use it to raise or lower the bar. What matters is how one takes it. Fashion is itself an art form, a medium to be used to create amazing art. Broadly seen, it is a confluence of colour, texture and form (by way of weaving, embroidery, printing, and cutting/pattern making). The importance of the two is akin to asking ‘…the importance of oxygen to life?’”

In my designs “Art is anything done with heart! In that vein we have made numerous collections over the years where art of different artists, and movements of art is the basis. Recently, Chola period brozes and Pop art have been referenced in our collections. In addition, we have explored and developed a new visual language.



On the connect “Sure there is: fashion is simply commercial art.”

In my designs “I’ve always been inspired by art. Think architecture by Gaudi, movements like Surrealism, Dadaism, the art nouveau and art deco realisations. While it is nothing obvious and direct, there is a subconscious connect. Recently, I collaborated with artist Akshay Singh Rathore, taking off from his light-box installations. We’ve independently been working towards similar things – a more landscape-like feeling. Tartan checks can be rigid; with this concept, they became more fluid, draping well.”

Fashion as a work of art “Some of them are! Designs are sculpted around a body. Sculptures have a mood; and in fabric draping, construction and moulding, it is like working with clay. One of my saris for instance was displayed at the Portugal Biennale (an international art exhibition) late last year.”



On the connect “Art and fashion are both intertwined. Both are highly creative fields. One uses a canvas with brush strokes or mixed media while the other uses fabrics and threads on cloth. The difference is, the latter is turned into a structured garment while the former is flat with sometimes a 3D effect. Artists have even started incorporating materials available to fashion designers in their art.”

In my designs “My spring summer 2010 collection was inspired by the works of world renowned Spanish artist Joan Miró, who was known for his very vibrant, childlike paintings and use of primary colours. I borrowed elements from his art and gave them my own TAIKA twist using vibrant appliqués and embroidery on ivory linens and cotton-silks. The recently concluded WIFW AW 10 showcased my collection inspired by abstract expressionism, a modern American art movement which took wing post World War II in the late ’40s and flourished till the early 1960s, putting New York on the global art map for the very first time.”

Designer in an art show “For me art speaks; so does fashion. The first ever group art show I participated in was organised by Polka Art Gallery at The Visual Arts Centre, New Delhi in August 2007. It was a showing of extremely eminent artists. I was the only fashion designer and the only one to create tapestries on fabric with embroideries.”

Designs as works of art “My designs are just fashion statements, to be worn and enjoyed. Not to be treasured!”