"Sometimes clothes convey what we feel, what we want to achieve, who we want to seduce or simply what we are all about without saying a word. Style is one of the most potent, silent languages" - Sabyasachi Muhkerjee.
Block printed 3 piece ( Sabyasachi by Sabyasachi) Angrakha set with a hand embroidered Guldasta dupatta paired with hand embroidered (Sabyasachi by Sabyasachi) bangles - Summer 2013.
Dress: Sequined cowl neck, drawstring dress -Sabyasachi by Sabyasachi.
Bangles: Hand embroidered - Sabyasachi by Sabyasachi.
Shoes: Jimmy Choo, glitter peeptoe.
In class 6 he wanted to be a designer, in class 10 he refused to study for engineering and by class 12 he had designed his first saree. From Indira Gandhi to Madonna, Frieda Kahlo to women in Raja Ravi Verma's paintings, his inspirations are varied. Presenting the much sought after Indian designer, a powerful name in Indian fashion, my fashion god - Mr. Sabyasachi Mukherjee!
This post is a fond recollection of the glorious 8 hours that I spent with him and my first hand experience of his Bengali hospitality during my visit to India this February. It's indeed an honor to feature a "Sabyasachi Trilogy" on Sage&Slingback on it's FIRST anniversary!
I was singing and dancing in dreamland ( read Sabyasachi store), amidst all things colorful and beautiful, when the phone rang and my dream came to a sudden, screechy halt. It was my driver reminding me that it was time to head back to the airport. With a heavy heart, I gathered my belongings and started looking around for Sabya. Yes, the same Sabya for whom I had travelled all the way to Mumbai with love laced "Tiramisu" from Chicago. There he was, attending to the final bride of the evening with ease and élan. It was time to say good-bye and as I walked up to him, he excused himself from the bridal group he was working with and turned towards me.
"More power to you Sabya and may you shine the brightest. Thanks for everything and all the best " - these were my last words of the evening to him. With a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face, he shook hands, gave me a warm good-bye hug, closed his eyes for a second and replied "Thank You".
On my flight back to Bangalore, I started penning down the memories of the best 8 hours of my life that I spent with the fashion king, my constant favorite Mr.Sabyasachi, the man and the label whose aesthetics and integrity I really really love!!
TALE OF TIRAMISU:
Talking about gut feeling and India, I knew that things were going to be a little different this time. I had made up my mind to explore and experience and do things a little differently than usual. Visiting temples, relatives and friends can wait I thought and started chalking down minute details of my itinerary, right here in Chicago.
Nachiket Bharve, Malini Ramani, Paromita Mukherjee, Anamika Khanna, Pero, Suhani Pitte, Sanjay Garg, Gaurang Shah, Anand Khabra, Bombay, Hyderabad, Singapore, Hong-Kong, Bali... the list seemed endless. But deep within, all I really desired was to meet my idol Mr. Sabyasachi. We had talked to each other on the phone in the past and having missed my chance of meeting him in New York, there was a restlessness within me. This time I wanted to try and make it happen. But how??? was the big question. He was super busy, his dates had to match with mine, many factors had to fall in place, so would I ever be able to meet him? I kept asking myself.
"Vogue India" had recently released a feature about his blog, where the designer expressed a desire to have TIRAMISU as his birthday gift. And Voila, it was good enough reason for me to make this meeting happen. I ran to the nearest GODIVA store in Chicago, packed a dozen of their wonderful chocolate bars with tiramisu filling and flew to India, hoping to meet Mr. Sabyasachi!
Ten days in Bangalore and I was still struggling with jet lag. On Feb 13th, 2013, I woke to a much awaited e-mail -"Sabya is here between Feb18th and 20th, make your travel plans accordingly. I was ecstatic.
My happiness was short lived. My husband informed me that his boss was visiting him around the same time so he couldn’t take time off to take care of Sundari. After much pondering over whether to go ahead or cancel the trip, my husband suggested I leave Sundari with his mom and make a day trip to Bombay just to meet Sabya. My mother-in-law happily agreed and I immediately booked my tickets to Bombay for February 19th.
My dream was finally about to come true. I made a quick trip to Sabya's favorite store Anokhi to buy some paisley boxes for my TIRAMISU. I then started wondering what I would wear on that day. Indian or western? One of his creations or something vintage from his other favorite store Anthropologie? I finally decided to keep it simple but chic. I picked black ankle length slim fit pants from J. Crew, a yellow ochre school boy blazer from Banana Republic, Tory Burch flats and a burnt orange Balenciaga cross body handbag.
Though the Kalaghoda store was familiar territory, it was a different feeling this time. Having heard many stories about how Sabya had changed post unprecedented commercial success, I was really nervous. Would he recognize me? Would he even take a minute to talk to me? Flooded with thoughts, I walked into the store.
Hundreds of familiar antique clocks, vintage frames, wall plates and a huge easel saying " THE BRIDAL WEEK" greeted me at the entrance. Many brides to be from Bombay had taken appointments with Sabya to finalize their wedding trousseau and preview his summer collection.
The main room was filled with the scent of agarbattis and the soothing sounds of the Krishna bhajan " Adharam - Madhuram, Vadanam - Madhuram". It was an instant "at home" feeling for me and soon I was greeted by the wonderful staff. " Sabya is expected here at noon, would you like some tea?" the store manager asked.
Since I still had an hour , I decided to visit Sabya's other store " Sabyasachi by Sabyasachi" upstairs and say hello to the lovely staff there.
With Rashi Mehra, manager, Sabyasachi by Sabyasachi - she's one lady who is on top of things, who knows the products inside out, believes in a great customer service and my favorite!!
At around 12.35pm, I got a call from his main store mentioning that Sabya had arrived and I could come down to meet him. The store that was empty an hour ago was now filled with Bombay socialites, future brides, their families and the staff. A wall separated the hallway from the main room and amidst all the chaos, I heard a familiar voice.
With my Tiramisu box in hand, I patiently waited. Before I knew what to do, Sabya, tossing his long wavy hair, made his way through the crowd and walked past me. Inspite of the fact that he was on his cell phone talking to someone, he paused, looked at me, smiled and waved. My heart was racing and believe it or not, I had never been so starstruck in my life. It was THE moment for me!
Dressed in simple frayed jeans, checked shirt and a red Gucci belt he then walked up to me along with Sabina Chopra. He looked at me and said " Jayashree?? - familiar face, I am not frequent on facebook, but I have seen your pictures on my fanpage". I smiled and said YES, then gave the Tiramisu box to him. "Happy birthday in advance Sabya ( his birthday was on Feb 23rd)! I got to know that you love Tiramisu through the Vogue blog, here it is all the way from Chicago” I said. He looked a little shy and embarrassed as he accepted the package, turned to Sabina and nodded. "Unbelievable, unbelievable....hope I didn't make a fool of myself by admitting this in Vogue" he said. It was a very emotional moment for me and I could tell that he was very touched by this gesture.
"Be my guest and feel at home" – these were his exact words when he heard that I was there for an entire day. I watched him in awe as he worked with clients and helped them put together their wedding trousseaus . Suddenly he disappeared for a moment and then returned with a Sabyasachi shopping bag "This is for you, please open it and see if you like it" he said. When I looked into the shopping bag, I saw a vintage, silver handcrafted handbag". I was in a daze!
It was lunch time and Sabya wanted to know whether I would prefer pasta or maharashtrian food. When I opted for the traditional khaana, he ordered some authentic maharashtrian dishes from the famous restaurant "Swathi " in Kalaghoda. Sabya, Sabina and I had lunch together. The space in the back-room was limited and there were only 2 chairs. He offered the chairs to Sabina and me, and preferred to sit on the floor. Such was his humility.
I was still in a daze, I couldn't believe that this was happening to me. Obviously the lunch conversation centered around his clothes and then out of the blue he asked me - " Why do you women need so many
clothes, why do you women spend so much on my clothes? This was a question to which I did not have an answer and I bet you don’t either.
Post lunch, it got crazy busy again and the magician continued to weave his magic. The summer collection was previewed by many brides and socialites. It mainly comprised of polka dots, sheer tiers, soft pastels and zardosi embroidery . Sabya patiently attended to each and every prospective bride and her family members without ever losing his cool. Every fifteen minutes he came to me and made sure that I was not bored.
In between this madness, he asked one of his assistants to bring his sketch book. He looked at me and started sketching me. Kneeling right behind him, I saw his fingers drawing these fine lines. He remembered my picture from his fan book page. " This is for you, as I remember you from facebook " he said and handed over the paper to me in a minute. Obviously I was on cloud nine !!
He remembered this picture from his fanpage.
After a round of evening tea (served in very pretty China) it was picture time. Like the energizer bunny, he continued with clients without getting tired. But I knew that I had to head back home. I wanted a few pictures before I left and when I told him that, he got up from his chair, walked up to the mirror and loosened his pony tail. When I told him he looked good the way he was, he smiled and said “ I have no personal sense of style, but today I have shampooed my hair, my hair is all shiny and silky and I want to show it off". His words brought a smile to my face. He asked his staff to bring the Tiramisu box back and holding it in his hands, he posed for the pictures. After every picture, he made sure that the lighting was good. He offered me the chair, while he preferred to stand. A true gentleman he was!
Framed in his style!
My Sabya wall at home!
As I said my final good bye, I asked him if he had any plans to visit Chicago in the near future to which he said “ I am on the verge of finalizing something big with Oprah and if that calls for a Chicago trip then I will definitely try and visit you”. I smiled at him happily.
Sabya visiting my humble abode? Would be my next dream come true, I thought. Well, did I hear an "Amen" from heaven already??
PART 2 of the Sabyasachi trilogy - PEPSI LOVES COKE will be out on July 25th. Please check it out!