Lakme Fashion Week: Ace designer Shahab Durazi, 'There is no room for complacency or mediocrity in a creative space'

Says the ace designer as he makes his comeback to the runway after 12 years

Priyanka ChandaniUpdated: Monday, October 17, 2022, 03:23 PM IST
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Shahab Durazi |

Shahab Durazi, a designer who redefined Indian fashion with his eye for perfection and immaculate presentation. At the time, when the country had a handful of designers, Shahab Durazi launched his label in 1987 with his first collection in his store, SHAHAB DURAZI in Mumbai in 1988.

Thirty years, and despite this stupendous success, he has only one store which he calls 'Boutique'. He made his grand arrival with a line of pantsuits that remains known for his exquisite and sharply tailored couture. Laces, silks, chiffons, wool, and wool blends are his favourite to create the quintessential luxe couture. He is touted to be the first designer to use Angora, cashmere, and camel hair wool for his creations.

Famous among Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Katrina Kaif, Arjun Rampal, Dia Mirza, and many a-lists from the tinsel town, the designer, stays away from celebrity dressing, social media validations, promotional strategies, and prefers doing fewer ramp shows.

But this time, the ace designer is all set to hit the limelight to tell a new story through his classic couture with contemporary nuances as he returns to FDCI X Lakmé Fashion Week after 12 years.

The capsule collection will be a radical reflection of the brand with a theme of Nostalgia, borrowed from the 40s and 50s vintage chic era with details like pristine collars and cuffs from the English dandy dress code, quilted cummerbunds, bows embellished with pearls and silk ribbons.

Shahab's latest collection is also inspired by the Renaissance and Rococo art movements in the form of large French motifs endorsing slow fashion.

We caught up with the couturier to talk more about what kept him away from the runway, his new collection, his creative process, and all things fashion. Excerpts:

What kept you away from Lakmé Fashion Week for 12 years? Was the distance intentional?

I have always preferred doing very few shows. I believe you step out in the limelight to tell a new story, or sometimes revisit an old one, albeit with a twist. For me it’s imperative the narrative must be inspiring and worthy of an esteemed platform, else your work is viewed with disinterest, seen as repetitive and lacks creative ingenuity. There is no room for complacency or mediocrity in a creative space. It needs the undivided attention of your audience. If I am convinced my narrative can hold the attention of my target audience, I pursue an appropriate platform to showcase.

How have you been able to stay relevant despite staying away from fashion shows and celebrity styling?

My fashion aesthetic as well as sensibilities are vintage, nostalgic that attempts to address the ever-evolving role of style and elegance – I have and will stay true to this timelessness in clothing that is desired by many and is the true essence of what fashion is. Though, I keep distance from trends but am able to mold our own standards in the modern industry, owing to our past which we can always turn to for inspiration. Structural excellence and an ageless appeal are what we strive for at Shahab Durazi.

Does the subject take priority or the fashion and the theme? Do take us through the design process.

Returning to the runway after 12 years is no easy feat. My work hasn’t been viewed by the masses in quite a while so the collection will speak for itself, although who wears it will surely impact the translation. I leaned on historic events and time periods during the design process to convey ‘nostalgia’ as the focus of the collection, so certain pieces feature designs from French art movements and borrow from pristine English menswear of the 40s. We made sure the collection was strong on tailoring and used couture techniques to perfect balance and proportion. Embellishments of all sorts feature throughout, some create illusion, some add texture. You will see detailed floral filigree work as a prominent design element along with intricate pearl patterns and ornate beadwork to add an edge to the otherwise delicate textiles used throughout. The collection is an expression of the unique craft that Shahab Durazi stands for.

You have been working with a lot of laces, chiffon and silks. How do you balance the subtleness and simplicity in your collection?

While designing, we offset the styles of fabrics, prints, textures and silhouettes. The latest collection also features silks and chiffons but with contrasting graphic prints, large motifs, voluminous shapes and couture cuts on rich wools that bring an edge to the subtlety of delicate fabrics. We are also showcasing a range of statement accessories like elaborate diamante buckles on belts and embroidered clutch bags which add a lot of character and contemporary feel to pieces and can easily dress up a simple look for a glamorous evening out.

There are quite a few of your collections modelled by film stars. Who do you think carries your collection well?

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Lara Dutta, Arjun Rampal, Farhan Akhtar, Katrina Kaif, Dia Mirza, Tiger Shroff, Shabana Azmi, and Diana Penty.

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