By: Nikita Vivek Pawar
Posted on: January 29, 2019
Rohit Bal is one of the first Indian designers who has been celebrated worldwide. The designer has showcased his collection in almost every fashion hub of the globe. To encapsulate his talent is to say that he is a tradionalist who draws influence and inspiration from the local arts and crafts in India. “Handicraft is the best craft. I think we should revive the excellent techniques and methods that we have. It's our true culture," he said in the background of Blender’s Pride Tour, where he showcased his Spring Summer 2019 collection under the banner of ‘My Heritage. My Pride’.
Ever since he launched his label in 1990, Rohit Bal has taken up projects that excite him and have a larger story to tell. Best known for his lavish motifs and textiles, he always tries to imbibe the Indian aesthetic in every way possible. With his latest Spring Summer 2019 collection he did just that.
In the 14th edition of the Blender’s Pride Fashion Tour, four designers presented their interpretation to the concept – Pride. The first segment was showcased in Gurgaum where designer Tarun Tahiliani showcased his interpretation for ‘My Blend, My Pride’, the second was in Hyderabad where designer Gaurav Gupta illustrated his version of ‘My Expression, My Pride’. After the entracing and overwhelming collections in first two events, the third of the four standalone collections was of Mr. Bal in the iconic city of Mumbai where the ace designer displayed his collection ‘Gul-dastah’. And there couldn’t have been a better venue than the Bandra Fort in Mumbai.
The breezy weather and the heritage architecture complimented the vibe and essence of the collection. The entire stage was magnificently decorated with white flower beds and flooring looking nothing but regal. Veteran singer Shubha Mudgal’s voice added the much-needed melody to the breezy evening.
The designer played his forte with Gul-Dastah (a flower bouquet). Using flowers like roses, lotuses, and hibiscus, he gave life to the evergreen motifs. With over 50 models, every detailed stunning piece that walked down the ramp were a reminder of our enriched culture and tradition. The first set of models came in wearing majestic ivory dresses with golden flowers in ornate lehengas and sarees, self-designed sherwanis and golden turbans with minimalistic jewellery and light makeup. With roses in their hair they looked royal. There were references of the renaissance period with long dresses with high Victorian collars, cape jackets and corset dresses with heavy floral headgears.
Every girl at the show had a twinkle in their eyes when the beautifully detailed lehengas and sarees entered the stage. The designer loves to play with black velvet with golden designs which looked ethereal and classic. The last set had contemporary silhouettes with the combination of white and red. The flowers here were painted and had a beauty of their own. This was one of my favourite sets.
"The collection is entirely Indian. All the techniques used are handmade. To name a few would be zardozi, resham work, shibori and aari. I have mixed a lot of these techniques to create something new. It's more about what you do with the technique than the techniques itself," Rohit Bal said.
Actors Diana Penty and Siddharth Malhotra were showstoppers for the show. Ms. Penty opened the show while walking the ramp in a beautiful ivory cape jacketed dress and she stole the show right there. She then accompanied Mr. Malhotra in a black velvet dress with high collared jacket on Mrs. Mudgal's 'Saawariyan'. The jacket complimented Mr. Malhotra’s sherwani.
Both the showstoppers were taken aback with surprise when a third showstopper graced the ramp. A stray dog decided to make an entry of its own and be a part of the collection. It was much later when the management realised the unintentional intruder and had him escorted outside. Brushing the incident aside, Mr. Malhotra later mentioned that 10 years ago, his first show as a model was with Mr. Bal, and the show day was also his birthday. To be honest, it was a poorly managed event, be it the scarcity of invites, the absurd seating arrangement, the delay for the showcase or the unannounced third showstopper.
The third leg of the Blender’s Pride Fashion Tour 2018-2019 was a certain sensory treat nonetheless with delicate, billowing dresses, a beautiful stage and an amazing singer. It was an eventful evening. The conclusion of the tour will be in Kolkata when designer Ashish N Soni displaying his understanding to the concept of Pride with his collection ‘My Identity, My Pride’.
What will happen
As he rose on the ladder of success, Rohit Bal found ways to give back to the society, either by way of charity or participating in initiatives that target a great cause. "This year we plan to work with some more NGOs. I am also collaborating with Usha for their initiative in Kashmir wherein the collection that I'm designing for Lakme Fashion Week's opening show would be made entirely by the women in Kashmir. We hope to raise funds that would help these women sustain themselves." Claiming this year to be his charity year, the designer looked pumped to take on new ventures and projects.
The designer has had many collaborations in his careers. He has worked with some of the captains in the industry like Christian Louboutin, Bombay Dyeing, Titan Watches, Chivas, Reid & Taylor and so on. He believes in being the part of the product right from its inception. He also hinted at an upcoming cosmetic line collaboration with a company he couldn’t name at the moment. "What truly motivates me is the quest of perfection. To outdo myself every time and time is what keeps me going. It's definitely stressful but without that there would be no motivation," he said.
Every designer has a vice, for Rohit Bal its perfection. Time is his luxury. Time to perfect the project at hand, time to self-reflect, time to enjoy and relax is what he considers to be his luxury in life.