Indian fashion designer Dhruv Kapoor on where to shop in India, his spring/summer 2019 collection, and love at first sight
Beyond dressing celebs including Sonam Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and M.I.A., Indian fashion designer Dhruv Kapoor is fascinated by imbalanced representations of masculinity and femininity, both at home and abroad. His spring/summer 2019 collection, New Butch, is unusual — almost subversive, even — in its refusal to neatly conform to traditionally 'masculine' or 'feminine' fashion categories; everything is colourfully blended together, in a manner he describes as typically Indian. We spoke to Kapoor about his homeland's long love affair with colour and texture, where to shop while in India, and refashioning tradition below.
Who is Dhruv Kapoor?
I'm an extremist, laidback and hyperactive at the same time. Mostly, it's my visions that drive me; the closer I get, the clearer they become, and I can begin to see further beyond them. I am always open to different experiences, but authenticity consistently moves me.
Did you grow up wanting to make clothes?
I've wanted to make clothes since the eighth grade. Initially, I wanted to work with jewellery, but somehow ended up switching to clothes. It was an expansion of the same idea, I guess — the more I learn, the broader my vision gets.
What was the first piece you ever designed? Was it a piece of jewellery from before you changed your focus, and do you still have it with you?
I designed a new take on Indian wedding attire for myself. I wanted to retain the traditional fabrics, but to try something a little different. I ended up using some vintage brocade to construct a bomber jacket, and added some almost alien, 3D embroidery on top. I paired that with a knee length shirt in the same brocade, and silk pyjama bottoms. I'm pretty sure that outfit is still in storage somewhere!
Speaking of new takes on traditional clothing, what's the first thing that you think comes to people's minds when they think 'Indian designer'. Is that image is representative of who you are?
From what I know and have witnessed, people are skeptical about quality when it comes to Indian brands. They also think we only specialise in traditional clothing, and that's completely inaccurate. India's fashion industry is a vast, ever-growing one, and I will say that the international market's openness to us has come a long way since I started my label in 2014.
That's good to hear, although, Singaporeans generally aren't familiar with Indian fashion. Do tell us: what is Indian fashion to you?
The love of colour and mixing elements. For us, oversized, statement cotton or linen shirts and tunics work all year round, and embellished outerwear in technical fabrics are popular during winter months.
Where should visitors to India who are seeking such items shop?
Ogaan, Ensemble, and Good Earth in New Delhi, and Clove and Le Mill in Mumbai are must-visits.
And where should they drink and dine in New Delhi, where you're based?
Perch Wine & Coffee Bar has a perfectly relaxed vibe and great food, while TK's Oriental Grill at the Hyatt offers terrific pan-Asian cuisine.
Tell us about your spring/summer 2019 collection, New Butch.
Spring/summer 2019 is about a new form of masculinity that's based on nurturing, empathy, and love. The collection's distinctive visual language combines pop and romantic elements, and features a mix of custom-made and internationally-sourced fabrics.
It seems like the collection was a reaction to something in the zeitgeist. What concerns you, in the fashion industry specifically?
The fast pace of it all. Being a smaller business in the process of expanding, we sometimes miss out on tiny details that would normally receive more attention if not for the tight timelines.
Do you have a favourite fragrance?
L'Immensité by Louis Vuitton, which is extremely refreshing.
What are you currently reading?
Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda.
What's on your bedside table?
Water and hand cream, a couple of remote controls, lots of junk food and painkillers. [Laughs]
What's the first thing you think of when you wake up...?
Going for a run, which I force myself to do regularly. Then again, I'm not that big a fan of sleeping.
... And the last thing you think of when you go to sleep?
I review how my day went, and think about what I need to work on.
Who was the last person that you texted, and what about?
I texted a close friend, to coordinate brunch.
Who was the last interesting person you met?
I'm not jinxing it, but I had an instant connection with somebody special that I'm currently working on. [Laughs]
If you could meet anyone, anywhere, who would it be?
The list of candidates is a long one. Could I plan a big dinner for them all, somewhere secluded and far from distractions?
After you're done with this interview, what are you going to do?
I'll finish some work, have brunch, and perhaps get a haircut!
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