Stretching the Boundaries

Stretching the Boundaries

It’s no surprise that fashion designers often generate a mega-buzz with their creative collaborations and partnerships. After all, there’s nothing better than combining two brands that people already know and adore, and bringing the results to the masses in a way that’s never been possible. The concept of limited partnerships can also lead to insane customer demand, with merchandise landing on e-commerce sites for mind-boggling markups, or determined shoppers camping out hours before stores open their doors. The fact is that many of our favourite fashion designers are just as talented at creating looks for interiors as they are at outfitting models.

Turning their creative sensibilities towards home design is nothing new for Indian designers. Following the examples of international labels like Armani,

Dolce & Gabbana, L’affaire, and Rick Owens, home-grown designers including Manish Arora, Tarun Tahiliani, and Raghavendra Rathore are among those who’ve stepped into designing luxury interiors. With an aim to broaden their portfolios, these stylesetters have successfully blurred the lines between fashion and home in ever more alluring ways. And if this isn’t proof that your house can look as stylish as you do, we don’t know what is! From clothes to travel-inspired bedrooms and, of course, ultra-modern living rooms, fashion designers have taken over every part of the house and hotel. Read on to discover seven notable collaborations between brands and designers we love.     – Anisha

Sabyasachi Mukherjee

Touted as one of the most influential names in Indian fashion, Sabyasachi Mukherjee was born into a middle-class Bengali family including a chemical engineer and an art teacher. Carrying forward his endeavour to do everything in designer style, the couture king unfolded a whole new aspect of his fashion sensibility in 2007 when he launched Sabyasachi Signature Line with Bombay Dyeing.

The eclectic bed and bath line –  inspired by the principles of Tao and other Oriental influences like antique Chinese tapestries, calligraphy, and wallpaper – consisted of bath slippers, comforters, robes, sheets, and towels. The line was intended to weave simplicity into creating a contemporary semblance of beauty and clarity, thereby enhancing the inner peace and tranquillity in one’s bedroom. Bombay Dyeing also launched Sabyasachi Art and Sabyasachi Kitsch collection in the same year.

As his popularity soared, so did his collaborations in the fields of architecture, food and interiors. In 2012, Sabyasachi, with Taj 51 Buckingham Gate, designed the lavish Cinema Suite in London. The 1,832 square-foot suite, which pays tribute to the history of film and takes inspiration from motion pictures across the globe from the 1940s and 1950s, consists of a two-bedroom suite with a dining room, powder room, study room, and kitchen. Showcasing a beautiful journey through world cinema, guests will find references to masters like Francis Ford Coppola, Ingmar Bergman, Majid Majidi, Pedro Almodóvar, and Wong Kar-Wai in the living room. The bedrooms are reminiscent of the golden Hollywood era of Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth, along with renowned Indian artists like Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, and Merchant Ivory.

In 2014, San Francisco-based Monica Bhargava – Executive Vice President of Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma brands – visited Sabyasachi’s store in Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda district, and couldn’t stop raving about his designs. A year later, this incidental visit connected the upscale, American home furnishings chain Pottery Barn and the designer by creating a complex, but a fascinating marriage of East and West. The holiday collection included bedspreads, Christmas trees, cutlery, jewellery boxes, plates, and table tops.

Then followed the collaboration with Forevermark, where the master couturier created a fusion of Bengali and Sicilian jewellery made by Bengali karigars. Inspired by the vintage artistry of the 1920s, the Zanyah collection consisted of exquisite diamond earrings and rings for men and women, along with a stunning collection of heirlooms for Urban Royalty.

Manish Arora

No fashion designer has worked as hard to crack the high-fashion code as Manish Arora. Known as the king of collaborations, Arora has paired with nearly 50 national and international brands and launched exclusive collections with them. The purveyor of somewhat over-the-top creations has teamed up with Amrapali, Barbie, MAC Cosmetics, Mercedes-Benz, Mono Prix, Nespresso, Nivea, Pommery, Reebok, Swarovski, Swatch, and Walt Disney, among others. “I’ve done close to 50 collaborations so far and I’m proud of them all. Each of these brands I have collaborated with has been well-established in their respective industries for several years. I’ve admired their work for a long time and each has presented me with unique opportunities to exploit my creative output in interesting ways,” Manish told The Times of India.

Born and based in Delhi, Manish established his label in 1997. Since then, the talented designer is known for his vivid palette of kitsch motifs and riotous colours. Creating clothes that combine a range of traditional Indian craft methods – including appliqué, beading and embroidery with contemporary silhouettes – Manish’s sensibility has attracted international celebrities’ likes Katy Perry, Kangana Ranaut, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, and Sonam Kapoor.

On the footwear front, Manish aligned himself with Reebok in 2008 and launched the Fish Fry collection. With leather, specialised fabric, Swarovski, and suave designs characterising the line, the shoes came in delicate pink, blue, silver, gold, and red hues which made a bold fashion statement.

Fans of Manish Arora’s eccentric glamour weren’t disappointed by the designer’s partnership with Swarovski CRYSTALLIZED™. The designer created a series of a capsule range of spangly crystal transfer motifs T-shirts, featuring bejewelled versions of Indian spirituality – Ganesha, Lakshmi, and Nandi. “It’s a great way of making people aware of the symbols, taking the motifs and putting them in a way people can possess –  as Indian gods on T-shirts,” Arora told Vogue.co.uk.

Then followed the pairing with Amrapali in 2014, in which the designer created a collection adorned with kaleidoscopic botanicals and fluorescent art deco patterns. Bold and bright, the 18 kt gold-plated collection had a colour palette of banana yellow, fuschia, mint green, and sherbet pink, in predominantly geometric shapes. Manish, who is regarded by many as the “John Galliano of India,” also teamed up with Walt Disney and launched ready-to-wear collection following the couture collection.

Tarun Tahiliani

Interior designers should take note when fashion designers step onto their turf. Noted Indian fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani is certainly one who’s made a splash; over the span of his career, he has collaborated with The Park in Hyderabad, Timex, and luxury villas in Goa.

Best known for his ability to infuse textile heritage and Indian craftsmanship with European tailored silhouettes, Tarun teamed up with The Park and created a new and fashionable look for their Indian restaurant, Aish. In keeping with the stylish design of the hotel, the black-and-white framed prints from the Nizam era covering the walls give the impression of careless opulence. The Swarovski chandelier, along with Swarovski crystals and pearls in the décor, perfectly reflect Hyderabad’s traditional jewellery.

The design pioneer next worked with Timex to create a collection of mono-branded watches with two lines – a ready-to-wear line called ‘OTT by Timex,’ and a bridal collection. The series comprised 14 different styles, where each piece was adorned with traditional Indian jadau work using a variety of stones, such as the China CZ stones or Swarovski crystal, and pearls set in gold. Tarun Tahiliani, who was the first Indian designer to launch a watch collection under his own label, told Couturerani.com, “I remember how this collection was close to my heart as each timepiece contributed to the beauty and timelessness that is the quintessential Indian woman. Combining opulence with luxury, each timepiece was graceful and unique.”

No stranger to pushing the boundaries, in 2015 Tarun Tahiliani launched an ambitious project in Goa at Champaka. Designed and furnished by Tarun as a stylish and relaxed getaway, this Goan villa embodied Tarun’s personal and highly discerning taste. Nestled amidst vast fields overlooking the Moira River, the three spacious four-bedroom contemporary villas – Courtyard Champaka, River Champaka, and Orchard Champaka – open onto breathtaking views of greenery. Each elegant bungalow affords guests a warm Portuguese charm of a bygone era, and a tranquil perch on an elevated plot.

Rohit Bal

Ace designer Rohit Bal has always conjured up a feast for the eyes with his signature use of lotus and peacock motifs in rich fabrics like brocade and velvet. In 2012 he made the leap to carpets, translating his eye-catching designs for interiors. Rohit teamed with Danish luxury carpet maker Ege to bring out an India-inspired carpet series for the global market. Representing the rich cultural design heritage and diversities of India, the collection comprised two categories: one to be used in homes and the other featuring wall-to-wall carpets that could be used in airports, corporate offices, hotels, etc.

With a clientele that includes Anna Kournikova, Cindy Crawford, Pamela Anderson, Naomi Campbell, and Uma Thurman, Bal went on to have an alliance with India’s first Italian-designed men’s innerwear brand, Zoiro. This was followed by a collaboration with architect Jyothi Rath, where the duo designed and furnished Sagrados luxury villas in Goa. Sagrados, which means ‘sacred’ in Portuguese, comes from the designer’s heart. According to an interview in Vogue India, Bal explained, “My passion for beauty and for Goa is what has resulted in Sagrados luxury villas. This space is actually an expression of who I am. And the inspiration plus the style of Sagrados comes from any sleepy, lazy Mediterranean village where time stands still.”

Known for his understated elegance, the 56-year old couturier created 12 villas spread over 6,900 square metres of space in the heart of Morjim. Inspired by Portuguese, Italian and Spanish aesthetics with Rohit’s lifelong love for Goa, the villas exhibit a fusion of styles and designs while being reflective of his personality. Each two-storey villa, which was completed in 2016, included a jacuzzi, plunge pool, and a terrace with a panoramic view.

Raghavendra Rathore

Borrowing a leaf from his Western counterparts, Raghavendra Rathore was one of the first designers from India to successfully move into interiors and other areas of designing. Rathore believes that his is a company that does more than designing garments, and attributes his entrepreneurial skills to what he imbibed from the Parsons School of Design in New York. Known for patenting the bandhgala cuts and Jodhpuris, Raghavendra along with interior designer, Aparna Kakrania first associated with the Suryagarh luxury boutique hotel in Jaisalmer to do their interiors. Giving an English country club feel to the billiards room, Rathore once again displayed a great aesthetic sense, where he combined elements of royalty without being outrageous.

Born into the royal family of Jodhpur, Rathore went on to collaborate with Shoppers Stop and Tanishq to design jewellery and home accessories. But it was the association with Carmichael House that has made the designer so popular. The collection was divided into two sub-brands: the luxurious Rathore Home, which flaunted the grandeur of forts, murals, mosaics, and palaces of Rajasthan; and the reasonably-priced Rathore Club Jodhpur. Mining his skills and rich cultural heritage to create a brand to reckon with, a few years later, Raghavendra launched his own range of Rajasthan-inspired luxury home products, Rathore Home.

In 2012, Rathore re-designed a 1952 Chevrolet automobile. “The specifications for this project were simple,” recounts Rathore. “We were to make a modern adaptation of a classic 1952 Chevrolet by completely redesigning and modifying the exterior and the suspension system. In fact, specialised projects are highly customised and need a different methodology,” he told to DNA India.
Rathore also designed a limited edition packaging of Johnny Walker Black Label in 2013. Crafted to deliver a unique experience to whisky connoisseurs, each design was based on Rathore’s trademark bandhgala. “Indian culture has always inspired my work and this reflected in my designs for the Johnny Walker Black Label pack, a must-have for all who appreciate the richness and depth of this liquid,” Rathore said in a statement to IANS.

“Over the last two decades, the bandhgala jacket has become a hallmark for a modern, sophisticated Asian style and represents a revival of the true legacy of a bygone era. The packaging, too, flaunted the very elegance, that made a statement of genuine substance in my signature designs,” he concluded.

JJ Valaya

Raghavendra Rathore is not the only famed couturier turning his vision for interiors into a reality. India’s premier fashion maestro, JJ Valaya, launched his luxury interior and home décor store, Valaya Home. The designer strongly believes that a luxurious home can be defined on the basis of an element of surprise and warmth, a skill for curating, attention to detail, a scale of architectural design, and quality of furnishings and interiors. And these characteristics are manifest in the store, too.

Spread across 6,000 square feet on MG Road in New Delhi, the luxurious space is all about the art of bespoke. The interiors range includes limited edition soft furnishings, furniture, flooring, home accessories tapestries, and wall installations, all with a focus on detail, form, intricacy, and texture.

“Valaya Home stands for the ultimate in luxury interiors.In essence, that means that we will look at our customers and spaces holistically to evolve a Valaya signature that will give them satisfaction. Much like couture, which is highly personalised, our core team in our interior design consultancy provides tailor-made specifications and suggestions for all facets involved in a space, both internally and externally,” the designer said in an interview to Luxpresso.

Born Jagsharanjit Singh Ahluwalia, the designer’s name was shortened to create the Valaya fashion label. Along with his brother, TJ Singh, they launched their first gifting store – The Home of the Traveler. Located in Mehar Chand market, Delhi, the one of its kind of concept store infuses traditional antiques with modern style, creating a harmonious synergy out of contradiction. Catering to the tastes of different connoisseurs, the store has a collection of individual pieces personally handpicked by the designer himself during his travels. The range incorporates furniture and decor items that are divided into six definitive moods: Art Deco, Glamour, Organic, Vintage, India, and World. “The Home of the Traveler is a culturally inspired experience where everything is curated by me and put together as a cohesive story. It supports our core belief that the old and the new must coexist in any modern home. What we have is not just ‘for sale’ but ‘an ‘enchanting journey through the world’s cultures reflective of their inherent ethos, craftsmanship and legacy,” Valaya, who remains to be one of the biggest names in the bridal trousseau market in India, told The Economic Times.

Suneet Varma

One of the most admirable things about Delhi-based Suneet Varma is his willingness to make forays and work with leading international labels to create pieces that offer a world of difference when it comes to the details. From tying up with BMW to design the interiors for their 7-series; involvement with the international luxury accessory brand Judith Leiber, to a 15-year association with Swarovski, Suneet’s career has been illustrious, to say the least. However, this isn’t the first time Suneet has teamed up with Swarovski; he previously designed a line of jewellery, which included
maang tika, haathphool, kamarband, and bajuband. This time round – as Varma has successfully completed three decades in the industry and a longstanding relationship with Swarovski – he designed a collection of ethereal evening gowns.

In a surprising but rather magnificent collaboration, Judith Leiber joined forces with Suneet in 2009 to create a completely bejewelled, quirky and unique minaudieres. Continuing his collaboration with the luxury design label, the international collection features everything from a studded pretty peach and a lavender flower basket to the cigar box and a bear. In an interview with The Daily Mail on the collaboration with Leiber, Suneet said, “I am European in my sensibility and Indian at heart. This marrying of the two worlds reflects into everything I would foray into.”

In 2013, the golden boy teamed up with German automobile company BMW to design the interiors for its 7 Series. Like Lieber, BMW decided to continue its association with the couturier and in 2015, Suneet presented the design of BMW 5 Series as well. An easy progression from here was Varma’s association with the house of Azva, a bridal gold jewellery by World Gold Council. With avant-garde designs and attention to detail being the signature of both the brand and Suneet, in 2014 they came up with a bridal collection in 22 kt gold that was an eye-catching design classic. The jewellery pieces, which were designed by Suneet and handcrafted by Azva using traditional forms of craftsmanship, provided a style that is extremely aspirational and equally relevant to the modern Indian woman.

By 2015, Suneet had ventured out into the world of home décor, too. He created an exclusive line of luxury dinnerware and kitchenware in rich combinations of stainless steel, gold, and precious stones with Arttd’inox. Offering dinner accessories, platters and tableware for the kitchen, the premium collection exudes opulence and elegance with vintage and timeless elements.