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Designer Sabyasachi presented five limited edition saris inspired by Indian fashion icon Maharani Gayatri Devi at the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai on January 14, at the launch of Rambagh Palace -- a new book that chronicles the story of the late Rajmata’s former palatial home in Jaipur.
The designer has long been an admirer of the erstwhile royal he says.
"She has such an extraordinary aura about her,” he says. “There’s a softness and approachability about her even though she’s a royal.”
To conceptualize and create a tribute to an icon is a task. But to do everything in a short, frantic two-week period, while juggling store launches, his S/S 13 collection and guest blogging at Vogue is a fashion feat.
The late Rajmata's individual style was so recognizable -- think: old world chiffon saris and dark glasses -- that Sabyasachi became assiduous about finding the balance between being creative and “straying too far away from the inspiration”.
"Heritage needs to be dynamic,” he says. When recreating heritage it ought to be adapted for the times.
The designer paid extra attention to authenticity in his collection using the Maharani’s preferred palette of ecru, ivory, old rose pink and Dutch blue. Then pairing Indian embellishments like gota patti, zardozi and pearl embroidery with French needlepoint and Russian bullion -- foreign crafts that only princesses could afford at one time. The pearls were dipped in tea and coffee liqueur to give them an antique sheen.
Sabayachi used took traditional chiffon prints and transferred them on to yards of French organza, tulle and duchesse satin.
“The fits were not snug, they were slightly loose,” he adds. Pallus were draped over the models’ heads and a pair or two of Chanel sunglasses made an appearance.
The styling followed the same sophisticated, elegant, feminine code. Satin blouses featured 10-inch sleeves, a popular style during Gayatri Devi’s time and were decked with handmade buttons. The final, finishing touch: jewellery by Jaipur Gems.
“I insisted on them [Jaipur Gems],” says Sabayasachi. “They were the original jewellers to Gayatri Devi.”