PEPSI loves to eat- from carb rich jacked potatoes to calorie rich desserts,
PEPSI giggles when someone gives him buttered popcorn,
PEPSI prefers butter to margarine, dal chawal to caviar.
PEPSI thinks food is important, in fact - very important, may be more important than sex,
PEPSI doesn't smoke, drink or do drugs but is addicted to COCO - COLA,
PEPSI often wonders how fitting into a spandex mini dress could replace the joy of eating?
So who is PEPSI? - a foodie, a top notch Indian fashion designer, a creative genius, a visionary of art or a connoisseur of all things old?
The answer is all of the above.
Sabyasachi is fondly called PEPSI by his friends. He doesn't consider himself a designer, but thinks of himself as someone who just makes pretty clothes. He candidly admits that he would like to see Madonna in all his creations and he does not believe in the concept of showstoppers as he wants his clothes to be his showstoppers.
He comes from a humble background and always cherishes his most mundane middle class moments. In spite of being a brilliant student, he left his career of science to study economics and then ditched it to study fashion. He ran away from home at 16 and worked as a waiter at Anjuna beach in Goa. Later he joined NIFT and after graduating, he enrolled himself in the Femina Miss India "Khadi Goes International" contest. Though it was his first contest, his arrogance was such that he asked his mother to book a ticket to Bombay as he wanted to be there to win. Not only did he win , he was also awarded an internship to go to London. This was the year 2001.
And today, with a string of stand-alone stores, an interior design company, a television show, an art foundation, with designing costumes for films and dressing a few hundred brides every month, he isn’t just a great designer but he has also been instrumental in shaping the Indian fashion environment.
However, at a time when most Indian designers were trying to get a foot in the West, he turned around and returned to India for inspiration. While Chanel and Alexander McQueen were inspired by India’s
Maharaja era, PEPSI drew inspiration from the colorful low life of India such as the gypsies, the prostitutes and Bollywood.
He feels that the only way to become global is to have a local soul. His keen sense of detail and his ability to time travel and generate nostalgia is exceptional. So PEPSI is a school of thought, a design form which typically comprises of earthy tones, handmade fabrics, vintage silhouettes and antique textiles.
He recently added two new feathers to his cap - Road number 10, Banjara hills and 51 Buckingham gate, TAJ suites & residences. While he thinks the chance to do the interiors of the Taj Cinema suite (commemorating 100 years of Hindi cinema) was an offer that was too hard to resist, the Hyderabad store is his labor of love as he finds the city culturally inspiring with tons of fond memories associated with it. So the pink cement retail space with zillions of artifacts is his tribute to the city. With Hyderabadis getting more and more fashion or brand conscious and with many leading designers foraying into this Nawabi city's fashion market, it was time for Sabya to open his own store in the city. So in partnership with family friends Smita and Rajeev Shroff from ELAHE, he opened his 5th stand-alone store in November 2012. Every little detail of the store, from the decor to the uniforms of his staff ( I was told that he spent many hours in Anokhi, handpicking the ajrak block printed uniforms for them ) carries his touch.
This post is an ode to the vibrant city of Hyderabad and it's Nawabi ada. It will also highlight some of his quotes from his past interviews that have influenced me in many ways. I not only consider him a fashion maverick but a creative genius as well with amazing artistic vision.
"It's important to believe in our Indian selves, to believe in our sensuality, in our dignity and in our culture. If we keep our self- beliefs and identities intact, then nothing can go wrong" - Sabyasachi Mukherjee.
In a Sabyasachi "VASANTHALAKSHMI" Kanjeevaram paired with a kundan set by Asha Kamal Modi.
"If you are wearing a saree, respect it. Don't try to over modernise it, instead wear a gown" - Sabyasachi Mukherjee.
One of the finest Indian specimen in textiles in floral silk organza paired with a two tone Maharani blouse and a hand embroidered Sabyasachi headband....truly a collectors piece!
"I am not anti west, there are many things I admire about the west; designers, artists, other people that I hugely admire. My agenda is to have a healthy balance" - Sabyasachi Mukherjee.
Vintage brocade banarasi and net with hand embroidered border paired with a bird blouse. The jewelry is Amrapali round dolki.
He celebrated his entry into the southern market by hosting a lunch at the palatial TAJ Falaknuma for the city's most famous and beautiful. Seen here with socialite Pinky Reddy, partner Smita Shroff and singer Shubha Mudgal who enthralled the guests that afternoon with her songs.
The famous dining table at the TAJ Falaknuma which seats a 100 people.
I travel along the royal hallways of Taj Falaknuma to experience the dum pukth style of cooking of the Nawabs. I swim through the shimmering sea of bangles at the Lad Bazaar. I marvel at the majestic structure of Golconda fort and the beauty of the landmark monument at Charminar, but then as I reach Road number 10, Banjara hills, I am blinded by a huge black & gold Sabyasachi signboard.
A sprawling 5,000 square foot, two storey building holds my attention. I have visited many leading designer stores in the past but visiting a Sabyasachi store is an unparalleled experience and I have captured some of the untouched corners in the store that has drawn my attention and fascinated me immensely!
The high ceilings make a towering reception and every inch of the wall is covered by his signature wall clocks, antique frames and Raja Ravi Verma paintings. From old lamps to stained glass bottles, from antique embroidered frames to vintage textiles, everything looks so old world and dreamy.
The bright magenta pink walls here in Hyderabad as opposed to the earthy orange browns in Bombay hold your attention right away and the dim red light throughout the hallway puts you in a trance. Every inch of the wall screams creative genius. On the right, a huge "Shri Lakshmi" print by Raja Ravi Verma welcomes you. Hurricane lamps and stained glass sets, including an antique manicure set of the Nizam are well displayed.
I could not take my eyes off this wall, I spent a few minutes just gazing at it !
A walk through the hallway instantly calms you , you enter a zone of tranquility. Every print of Raja Ravi Verma is framed with Sabya's embroidered borders and antique fabrics. Also present on the wall are pcitures of his favorite model Indrani Das Gupta in tinted glasses .
Clutter has never looked so beautiful - agree?
Antique clocks juxtaposed with vintage photographs make a heady mix.
An antique Jhoomar by the cash wrap ( don't miss the hand embroidered star and the crescent frame in the backdrop).
Sabya's other favorite woman Miss India, Kanishtha Dhankar in tinted glasses, head band and kundan jewelry!
The look that inspired one of Vidya Balan's recent Cannes
The rustic "Bhoomika" poster of Smita Patil - what a fantastic
"Garuda Vahana Narayana" - framed in hand embroidered zardosi - a master piece!
An array of Raja Ravi Verma chromolithography paintings & attar bottles...
A cluster of lamp shades made from Sabya's hand embroidered fabrics is the speciality of the Hyderabad store.
The gorgeous staircase that leads to the upper level where some exquisite wedding trousseaus and Vasanthalakshmi kanjeevarams are housed.
Indian karigari at it's best –beautiful hand embroidered lamp shades by Sabyasachi.
Heaven for someone like me, who loves Indian art & fashion - seriously!
It's hard to believe that various hues of pink and the collage of so many earthy Indian textiles can all blend together so well.
The shopping experience is incomplete without the complimentary filter kaapi and muruku of this little cafe upstairs- an awesome touch of Sabya's hospitality.
A portrait of 2 perfectly adorned, little South Indian girls, one of them vaguely resembles the late singer MS Subbulakshmi, my personal favorite!
Truly a classic, Dev Anand & Nutan in "Paying Guest".
Sabyasachi = Nostalgia, remember these old style brass switch boards?
A brass Uruli for a wash basin and the old style brass knobbed water tap in the restroom.
So the next time you are in Hyderabad, along with trying dum biryani and spicy Guntoor idlis, make it a point to visit Sabyasachi's new store and trust me, you will thank me for the amazing visual experience. And yes, don't forget to sip "ROOAFZA SHERBET" at the cafe while you are browsing, it completes your shopping experience!!
The final part of the Sabyasachi Trilogy - "La vie en rose" - NEXT -don't miss it!