“It’s a sensory overload.”
Welcome to the world of the designer-entrepreneur Sabyasachi Mukherjee. If you’re a westerner who hasn’t traveled much in India, chances are you’ve never experienced anything like it. Until now.
The creator of the eponymous lifestyle fashion label Sabyasachi, revered across India and parts of the Middle East and a favorite of Bollywood’s elite, opened his first western store this fall, in the West Village. from New York. It is, in the truest sense of the word, breathtaking, a mind-blowing experience of boldness and charm.
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Lavish in its effervescence, the boutique offers a wealth of ideas from which those looking to be entertained during the holidays can draw suggestions. As a host, Sabyasachi is a beacon of calm, attentive yet laid-back, but there’s nothing natural about his eclecticism, which is anything but random. Case in point: At the store’s opening party, the magnificent dessert table set up in the accessories room: a vast pastiche of confections on various plates and trays, meticulously arranged in an intricate puzzle, a feast for both the eyes and the for the palate. .
That exhibit is a microcosm of Sabyasachi’s “world of a maximalist,” one entirely created by oneself. Scouting store locations, he saw the possibility in a 5,800-square-foot space in the Archive Building on Christopher Street, ultimately transforming its bland white box into a magical emporium. Every square foot of wall space, from floor to ceiling, rises in visual awe, beginning with sumptuous dark woodwork and faded patterned wall coverings.
“I wanted to present a distinctive Indian voice,” says Sabyasachi.
The hundreds of artifacts on view come from around the world and across the centuries: pichhwai, canvas paintings originally created as backdrops for statues of deities; Paintings of the Persian Qajar dynasty, now bordered with fabrics made from old sarees with zardozi embroidery; “scribbles” by a Bleecker Street sidewalk artist; and dinnerware by Scully & Scully.
“Beautiful things are beautiful things, regardless of where you find them,” he says.
It all forms the backdrop for the designer’s fashion and accessories, all made at his Kolkata home base. His clothes are opulent, with event wear taking center stage. (Among the wedding couples that he has dressed are Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas.) In-store, bridal looks and other extraordinary made-to-order ones can top $40,000. Similarly, high jewelry includes fantastic prices. An intricately crafted necklace encrusted with emeralds that sold for six figures was in the store during a preview; a $2.5 million wonder was on the way.
In general, evening looks feature lavish embroidery, often gold on black, with some silhouettes derived from traditional sarees and lehengas. There is also a wide range of separates intended to be easily integrated into Western ensembles.
“Head to toe would be too exotic, and some people will perceive it as a costume,” says Sabyasachi. “But smart separates—an embroidered jacket, for example—can be worn with a white shirt and jeans. It depends on how adventurous or non-adventurous you are.”
It goes without saying that Sabyasachi is a big proponent of a bold wardrobe, whether that means ditching the standard LBD cocktail for a fancy embroidered look or setting a table with unexpected creative bravado.
“Globally, we have all gone through a collective introspection,” he says. “People are ready for a new influence. We need to get out of our island mode to try something that might scare us at first, but then fascinate us.”
This story appears in the December 2022/January 2023 issue of Town Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW
Bridget Foley is one of fashion journalism’s most respected critics and a contributor to Town & Country.