Friday, October 31, 2014

The dark knight(s)

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind"

Spoken by the lovesick Helena, who has been abandoned by her beloved Demetrius because he loves the more beautiful Hermia, Helena believes that love has the power to transform something ugly into something beautiful.

Alexander McQueen had this famous line from Shakespeare's ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’ tattooed on his upper arm. Like Helena, he considered love to be the most exalted of human emotions. He is the only designer who made his audiences react emotionally during his shows. "I don't want to do a cocktail party , I would rather have people leave my show vomiting. I prefer extreme reactions, be it happy, sad, repelled or disgusted “- he had once remarked. This unconventional fashion genius brought high voltage drama and extravaganza to the catwalk.
"I think there is beauty in everything. What normal people would perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it." - I remember ending my first post on Sage&Slingback in 2012 with this quote of his. And now after 2 years, it gives me immense joy to showcase the works of my all time favorite British designer Mr. Alexander McQueen along with my other favorite Indian designer Mr. Kallol Datta who share the same design philosophy that " there is beauty in everything".

He didn't have the slightest inclination towards fashion and applied to design school on a whim. In a short span of time, Kallol Datta has been able to carve out a distinct niche for himself in the rapidly diversifying Indian fashion scene. His design aesthetic without being excessive speaks volumes about his ideology which focuses on making "sexless clothes" for all sorts of people. He believes that there should be no restrictions on how people choose to dress themselves, a belief that was strengthened during his formative years in the Middle East where men, women and children all wore similar clothes, mostly
loose robes in a neutral color palette of blacks and whites. "Shiny objects distract me - I believe in bling free, bling less, bling to death and the likes. The details in the garment, the shape and the form of the piece hold more importance to me" claims Mr. Datta. His love for all things unconventional has led him to an almost ANTI- fashion take on fashion and got him rave reviews. What sets him apart is his conviction in his work, his willingness to step aside from the mainstream brouhaha and do something that he truly believes in.

The comparisons between McQueen and Kallol are strong and inevitable as they both made a huge impact through their avant-garde dressing and quirky sense of style. This post is an attempt to discuss and showcase their design aesthetics which elevated them to instant fame.
Mr. Alexander McQueen's rise from Sevile Row to the head designer at Givenchy (succeeding John Galliano) in a short span caused a stir in the fashion industry. He is no more but continues to be in our heart through his work.


The creator of the controversial "Bumster".

He designed from the side, that way he got the worst angle of the body ( the bumps, lumps & the S- bend of the back). That way he got the cut and proportion and silhouette that works all the way around the body.

He put antlers on the model and draped a $3500 lace around it. He brought theatrical drama to the catwalk.

The sari inspired dress

He was walking on the beach and found thousands of shells. He thought they were so beautiful and wanted to make something out of them. So he decided to make a dress out of them.

He found the bottom of the spine, the most erotic part of anyones  body - man or woman.

The 12 cm  high heels


The "blood bath" series:

 The underarm dress:

The "blood stripe" series:

Paranoia - Pronoia:

   The "self portrait" print:

"Cutlery & foetus" print:

Kallol's biggest fan, singer Sona Mohapatra in a "star print" outfit.

Quirky prints on his saris:

Sona Mohapatra: Dragon fly print
Sonam Kapoor: Clock print
Reshma Merchant : Cigarette print 

Kareena Kapoor was Kallol's showstopper at  the grand finale of LFW -2012.
She is seen here in a "mating snail" printed top.

Meet my photographer: Tanya Gupta

I'm a 17-year-old Electrical Engineering major at New York University. And though my passion lies in the sciences, I take pride in the fact that I'm so in touch with my left brain as well as my right brain - I devote almost all of my free time to photography, writing, and music. When I was 11, my dad invested in a Canon DSLR which I was instructed never to touch without his permission. As any pre-teen would, I rebelled and tinkered around with it whenever he wasn't around, and in time I learned more about the camera than my dad ever did - since then, I've done more justice to that camera than anyone ever has! I find that my favorite subjects to shoot are people, because there's something so raw and beautiful about capturing a moment in time, such as a momentary glance directly into the camera lens or the slight smile that appears before a burst of laughter, much more significant than anything film or writing could capture, in my opinion. I loved doing this shoot because of the venue, the quiet woods with trees through which the sun shone so subtly at 6 pm, which was around the time that we took the photos. Currently I live in Brooklyn and plan on minoring in photography or film. 

It was one of those gloomy days in Bangalore when I was sitting on my comfy couch watching the rain outside and enjoying a plate of hot aloo bondas and coffee. While I was carelessly browsing FB, something interesting caught my eye. I saw some stylish shots of some known faces. I became curious and wanted to know more about the photographer and in no time I realized that the pictures were styled and shot by Tanya, my friend Radhika’s gorgeous  daughter.

Whoa! I didn't know about this facet of Tanya, I thought to myself. The more I looked at the pictures, the more impressed I was. I liked the rawness in them and her eye for detail. My creative brain started working rapidly and the name KALLOL DATTA popped up many times. I wanted Tanya to photograph me in my Kallol Datta sari, I wanted her to capture the dark and edgy side of his designs. I wanted to send her a message immediately but then wondered- she is 17 and I am 44 - will she agree to do this photo shoot? Will she even consider me photo worthy? I was hesitant but soon enough I told myself that it does not hurt to ask. I sent her a lengthy FB message and waited to hear back from her.
In two days, I got a prompt reply from Tanya saying she is super excited to do a photo shoot with me and would want to meet me once I was back in Chicago.

"Jayashree aunty, I am really good at make up" - this 17 year old doe eyed beauty stated and in the same breath she continued " I like the freckles that I see on your face, let's not touch it but I would like to work on your eyes and lips. A high sleek pony tail, a thin silver nose ring, heavy brows, dark eyes and maroon lips is what I am thinking of, I want to give you an "ANGSTY" look." She sounded well researched and determined and I was completely bowled over by her conviction and how differently she looked at things.
Normally when you do a heavy eye, you keep your lip color mute but here she was, trying to go against the norm and experiment. Knowing her eagerness to try something different, I decided to give her a free hand and do exactly what she wanted me to do.
Amidst the chaos of Tanya packing her bags to move to New York to study engineering she made time for this shoot and sent me a message. The message read: " It's going to be a twilight shoot in a dense forest preserve - let's plan on meeting at 6 in the evening." The stylist in me was ready to be challenged. After playing for an hour with the shades of MAC and Yves St Laurent, we were ready for our twilight shoot.

The "mating snail"print on a saree:

Your sweat, blood & tears start smelling good to me & then I begin to fear, when the premature ventricular contractions occur - Blood Song.

Happy reading & Happy Halloween!


  1. Such a wonderful post JAy. Loved reading it. its really great to see how good you are at getting the best out of everyone who joins hands with you.....

  2. Your cold watchful look amidst the twigs and the trees of the forest got us hooked Jay! Tanya Gupta - very well played with the light and the mood. OMG at 17 you are so cool! Happy Halloween!

  3. Another nicely done post Jay. Love how you've drawn parallels between the works of McQueen and KD. OMG, the Saree dress is just so intriguing and fantastic. The red clock print KD saree and the mating snail print caught my attention, I was so happy to see you in this KD Saree, you look cat walk ready my friend. Pictures and styling are exquisite, ready for print media, seriously. Great job by Tanya. You've made high, quirky fashion accessible to us interested but clueless types Jay, can't wait to keep on learning and be inspired. Bravo!!

  4. Great work Jay! You never miss to surprise your two designers from so far apart can have such similar edge in their work.
    My two favorite sarees - Sonam Kapoor's Red and of course what you are wearing. Love how it's captured!
    Awesome work Tanya! You make not just your parents' proud but us as well. So much talent at such an early age. Can't wait to see you grow!
    Kudos to work at it's BEST!

  5. The best I like about you is your CONFIDENCE.

  6. Learnt a lot from just one post Jayashree! Your passion for fashion and the unique perspective intrigued me! Tanya you are an amazing artiste yourself and have captured the essence of Jayashree's post in your pictures!! Bravo and Kudos to the both of you!

  7. Loved the play of light and the B&W against the green! Tanya is a gifted photographer! You look beautiful in the black and white pic--that was my favorite!

  8. I wait to read all your blogs, J, but this one was special - for obvious reasons! Superlatives do not do you justice and commenting on anything that you do would be futile on my part. Your passion for all things beautiful, your creative brilliance and your innate sense of style and fashion, all translate into words in your blogs and make me look and understand things with a wonderfully different perspective. Thank you for making my life so much more colorful and joyous, not just with your pen, paints and lens, but also with your amiable and generous friendship! Stay blessed and keep shining! - Rads.

  9. Loved how you and Tanya magnificently showcased the work of the dark knight(s)!

  10. What a great job by Tanya !! Loved the post, did not know much about this designer so learnt a lot, like his haatke designs and thought process! Absolutely loved the venue, makeup and pictures done for this shoot! Great job by both beauties!!
    Love Suni.

  11. Jay – this article was an interesting read and I loved it on many levels:

    First, I have never been a fan of Alaxendar McQueen. I never really fancied his trademark, “Skulls” only because I found them too dark for my liking. Same goes with KD – have seen his designs on highheelconfidential but never paid much attention. You have very artistically drawn parallels between these two artists and it intrigued me to research more on both of them. We love men who respect women and McQueen has shown it unabashedly with his art.

    Loved the play of lighting in the photographs, goes so well with the theme. If the intention was to show the dark and the positive side in each one of us, then it was beautifully captured.

    Tanya – your photography is very mature and absolutely brilliant. Keep up the good work.

    Nidhi S

  12. WOW, so well captured! Wonder how you come up with these creative ideas! What a comparison, I would have never thought of it and honestly I am not a fan of either of these artists! However, you did a superb blog!
    And, yes this young girl Tanya is a fabulous talent, hats off to her wonderful work!
    Sincerely, your friend,
    Deval Desai Shah

  13. Must say, Tanya is really talented. She has done a gr8 job with the styling, make-up and the twilight photo shoot. You look a little different, Jayashree........ in a very good way. (will explain what I mean when we meet)
    Love the fact that she doesn't follow the norm. Neither do I hehe......
    The one piece that really caught my attention is the Red & Black clock print saree!!