Starting in an era when India was devoid any fashion industry, Indian designer Suneet Varma has come a long way in the past 25 years. We have a short conversation with him while being struck with his gorgeous couture anniversary collection.
By: Soumya Jain
Posted on: May 24, 2012
As Suneet Varma took a bow, there was a thunderous applause – and one worthy of not only communicating admiration for the collection he had just showcased, but also for the 25 years that he had pumped into the Indian fashion industry – nurturing it and slowly making his own space there too.
Kick-starting his 25th anniversary with a couture show at DLF Emporio, New Delhi, the entire fashion fraternity, crème-de-la-crème and media industry was there to support and cheer for one of its most lovable designers. And the collection itself was full of romantic, feminine references for which the designer is so renowned. Whether it was through the flowy silhouettes, or the bright colour palette of fuchsias, oranges and greens, or through the florals, the collection not only celebrated the past of the designer, but his future as well.
One of the first designers to inculcate a sense of luxury fashion in the country, Mr Varma comes across as a cool, humble person. But fashion is not only what makes this designer spin around. He has hands in multitude pies now – from hotel interior designing to getting one of the most coveted brands – Armani Junior – to India. It is quite impossible to even summarise the mammoth 25 years of journey of this designer, who we don’t want to call a veteran yet, foreseeing many more vibrant years for him still. Instead, we chronicle our short tête-à-tête with Mr Varma.
Suneet Varma: Thank you! I just wish to continue learning everyday and doing what I love most - creating great fashion and expanding my horizons.
Having been in the industry for 25 years, and worked in many genres of design from couture to ready to wear clothing to internationally acclaimed Judith Leiber bags to hotel interiors - I believe it is the correct time in Indian fashion to create a new look and feel that is couture at the heart of it and yet is available to a wider audience. This collection is carefully crafted in stylish youthful silhouettes at a diffusion price point. It is texture, print, fabric and detail driven. It’s a light, airy and effortlessly feminine couture line that is graceful, versatile and elegant.
With this line and the new possibilities of presentation inspired by technology, I look forward to the future and celebrating the next 25 years!
SJ: What are the activities lined up for this celebratory year?
SV: I am doing a Couture show in November which will be the Grand Finale to the 25th Anniversary celebrations. I will also be launching a coffee table book this year. The book will be about the Indian fashion industry and its growth, with all the hurdles and triumphs.
SJ: You had a fabulous Spring Couture show. And you said that with this collection you look forward to the future. But the collection itself had some elements of old-world charm – especially the flowery silhouettes and the head bands, etc. What is the connection?
SV: The collection is couture at the heart of it in the Suneet Varma sensibility. It is feminine and youthful, yet it is new in its feel as most of it is unembroidered and a fusion of western and Indian silhouettes. It’s easier to produce in larger numbers and the price points are much more affordable - therefore accessible to a larger audience. The future of Indian fashion is to be able to sustain its originality and yet be able to stand apart in comparison to the many international labels offering affordable luxury clothing.
SJ: Which elements will you retain from your past as you look towards the future?
SV: I’d like to keep what has become the ‘essence’ of my look and feel in womenswear. It will always be nontraditional at this price point and have a relaxed, resort feel to it. The fact that I have always worked with soft shapes and transparency in fabrics I’d like to retain, but I’d also like to keep the look youthful and think about the future clientele.
SJ: Can you tell us a bit more about the hotel project you are working on as the designer?
SV: I have been appointed as the Creative Director for Dusit Devarana Hotels in India. Founded in 1949 by Honorary Chairperson, Thanpuying Chanut Piyaoui, it will be opening this year in Delhi - in NCR region. I will be working closely with their prestigious interior architect company from Thailand. As the Creative Director, I am designing special textiles, carpets, lighting, mood and ambience for the very high end luxury hotel. To my mind, there is a definition of good taste and great style that transcends ethnicity and culture for me. Devarana is a challenge, to be able to create along with their architects, something that is timeless in style and will be considered in good taste anywhere in the world.
SJ: What are the future projects/collections which we can look forward to from the Suneet Varma stable in the near future?
SV: As I mentioned earlier, I am working as the Creative Director for Dusit Devrana and I am looking forward to the project to come alive. I am now doing the interiors of the new BMW 7 Series in Munich, which is a huge challenge and an honour!
I am one of the promoters for Unique Eye Luxury, the company which holds the exclusive rights to represent Armani Junior in India. We are looking forward to the store opening at DLF Emporio by July 2012. I’d like to make the project a success so we have a three store expansion plan over the next two years.
I am convinced that as a creative person, I must be very selective of the work I take on, as it’s important to grow and learn from each assignment.