Sabyasachi means never having to say you're sari.
Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee debuted his collection Saturday at New York's Fashion Week, bringing a forward-looking interpretation of traditional fabrics, patterns and hues to the States. Forget Nehru jackets and saris — few of Mukherjee's creations look quite the way you might imagine them.
It was only a matter of time before Bollywood's increasingly global influence would be felt on the runways in New York, and what Mukherjee offered was a progressive vision of it, alluding to tradition while looking forward.
At home, the 30-year-old designer has won a National Film Award for costume design, India's equivalent of an Oscar, for pushing the subcontinent in a new direction, fashion-wise.
The Sabyasachi spring line incorporates mostly mid-knee dresses and skirts, with ornate edges and detailing that drape elegantly and flow along A-line silhouettes. On one cinch-waisted tunic dress, stylized, golden floral prints on a moss green stood in contrast with a short-sleeved, red vest-like front, also embossed with a leafy motif.
Mukherjee sprinkled an element of nerd chic into the presentation, fitting several of the models with their hair in librarian-style buns and bookish, oversized eyeglass frames — a style-over-glitz look that plays well among young urbanites.
The looks departed significantly from that of Ashish N Soni, which last season became the first-ever Indian designer inside the white tents at Manhattan's Bryant Park. Soni’s sophomore collection relied mainly on white, distinctly white and occasionally frilly pieces, along with metallic gold and beige and, of course, a dash of black.
First-timers on the runway
Among the efforts at the UPS Hub, which included the talents of 10 emerging designers, were notable looks by Verrier and Terexov.Ashleigh Verrier, a 24-year-old Parsons School of Design graduate, appeared to draw inspiration from vintage looks of the 1920s.
For her debut collection, Verrier included a white, scoop-neck flapper-style dress fringed with navy sequins that matched its trim. Other tops included shimmery black-and-white referee stripes.Refined feminine elegance was gist of a collection by Terexov, by Russian designer Alexander Terekhov.
Simple, bold V-neck dresses in black, white and gray established a solid foundation for the show. The real fireworks came from a trio of looks: the sheer, flowing full-length dress that was subtly and intricately patterned; a round-shouldered red dress that used a sash to emphasize the waist and a robe-like gold dress with a plunging neckline.
Bagteria: Despite its unfortunate-sounding name, Bagteria creates over-the-top, wildly ornate pieces that ooze luxury.
Top-shelf materials and exquisite craftsmanship make its handbags uniquely decadent — with silver, premium calfskin and snake textures — though they’re unlikely to draw universal praise from shoppers. Vintage beads, embroidery and the occasional Swarovski crystal keep it a limited-edition collection.
“It’s like jewelry more than a handbag,” says Lisa Bradkin, Fashion Week's accessories director.
Monique Péan: Elaborate, vintage-inspired necklaces and accessories from Monique Péan were inspired by Belgian Congo art, says the New York-based designer.
Péan uses antique metals and one-of-a-kind pieces from indigenous cultures and combines them with luxurious fabrics to assemble eclectic accessories.
The line features premium leather, custom-molded hardware and printed linings, as well as pockets for your phone, iPod and BlackBerry. Word is, they’re also comfortable.
“They’re innovative. The quality is beautiful,” says Bradkin. “The bags are practical and chic.”
Tupli: You want it now and you want it unique? Custom-designed shoes by Tupli may be what you're looking for. An appointment with a creative designer and illustrator gets you footwear that’s entirely your own — from ballet flats to stilletos, in materials from suede to sequins. They take three to four weeks and start at $700 for shoes and $1,350 for boots.
Vivenne Westwood/Nine West: In the newest collaboration between a retailer and a high-end designer label (a ) Nine West unveiled its Vivienne Westwood collection, which aims for a more affordable version of the boutique offerings. Also, Target previewed its not-yet-available handbags from Rafe, an award-winning designer who opened a showroom on New York’s tony Fifth Avenue last year — a playful, oversized tote handbag.