Meet the dynamic style prodigy from Kolkata, Debashri Samanta, who has given Bengal’s traditional weaves, a quirky twist. Samanta speaks exclusively with Salon India about her collection, tryst with LFW 2015, future plans and more.
How was the beginning of your journey?
I come from a family of doctors and engineers who would listen to Tagore’s songs only on get-togethers! I am the odd one, who wanted to make a career out of art and designing, especially on the lines of craft revival and experimenting with handlooms. So after school, NIFT was an obvious choice for me. I graduated from NIFT, Mumbai in 2007 after being awarded the Most Commercial Designer by Pantaloons Retail India Ltd. After graduation, I worked with designers like Anamika Khanna and Ekru, both in Kolkata. My eponymous label was launched after getting through the Gen Next SR13 category for Lakmé Fashion week. Since then I have been showcasing in Lakmé Fashion Week and recently at Who’s Next, Paris in January 2015.
What are the challenges that you have faced?
Fashion is constantly changing and that is the real challenge. What worked a year before, doesn’t work a year later. One has to constantly keep oneself updated. Also everyday there are more and more designers who get into the business. So in order to survive, one has to be creative, understand the business and be an innovator!
Who is your inspiration?
I love brands like Issey Miyake, Kenzo, Balenciaga. I love their innovative take on fabrics and patterns. I also like Jil Sander for the simple, yet edgy look.
Who is your muse?
I like how Kangana Ranaut carries herself. I like her attitude and really like how she experiments with different silhouettes and looks.
Tell us about your label.
Debashri Samanta is all about sustainability and timeless trends where tradition meets innovation and urban beat meets the rural soul! We are an all-handwoven brand working with our team of studio handloom weavers with an aim to revive and re-create the lovely traditional Jaamdani weave by giving it our own urban twist and definition. In this age of easy digitalisation, we believe time is luxury. Our clothes embody this luxury of slow fashion in our everyday, trans-seasonal or trans-age wear. Our garments are not only handwoven on simple handlooms, which take hours of painstaking effort, but are also hand finished.
What is the importance of hair and make-up in fashion?
Hair and make-up complete a look, especially at ramp shows. They must complement what one is wearing and one’s personality. Fashion and beauty isn’t about clothes and cosmetics anymore. It is a lifestyle.
Which was your most outrageous creation?
We did dramatic hair and make-up on model, Candice at LFW for our ‘Hooked’ collection. It was inspired from the hard-working, poverty stricken fisherwomen of Vietnam and was all about unsophisticated beauty. Perfecting the hair and make-up took a long time.
You prefer creating for the runway or real women?
For me, I make clothes for real women. My muse is always someone real, rather than any celebrity. My inspiration always comes from my surroundings. That’s why for me, it is never difficult to make a well balanced collection. All our garments have an edgy, yet laid-back feel that is comfortable, yet makes a statement!
How do you incorporate beauty in fashion?
We work with natural textiles which are all handwoven. So we always go for a subtle natural look in terms of make-up and hair. I believe hair and make-up shouldn’t overpower the clothes and must complement the woman’s personality.
What is your advice to the emerging designers?
I would advice young designers to take criticism as a stepping stone and move on to find new inspiration and make way for the new collection. Be original and stick to your sensibility, don’t get swayed by the limelight of fashion weeks, find your centre and believe in it.
What are your views on the fashion and beauty industry of India?
Fashion and beauty is an ever-changing industry. One always needs to keep up with the latest trends.
What are your future plans?
I want to scale up my weaving unit even more so that I can have more time and space to experiment with newer materials. I would love to encourage my weavers to train the younger generation of weavers to keep the tradition and technique alive. For that I need to have a training school in place. It may not happen very soon, but I definitely have it in mind.