To count Sabyasachi Mukherjee among fashion’s supers wouldn’t be considered strange at all. After all, the man is a powerhouse who single-handedly changed the face of Indian fashion with his dedication to otherworldly crafts and the beauty of bygone eras. So strong is the Sabyasachi effect, that noteworthy women across the country—and even the world—swear by his beautifully draped ensembles and artfully layered jewelry. From Vogue Arabia cover star Deepika Padukone to Kim Kardashian, Naomi Campbell, Priyanka Chopra and Oprah Winfrey, no one is immune to the Kolkata-based designer’s charm. And by the looks of it, he’s only just beginning his journey of world domination.
After the success of his stores in Kolkata, Hyderabad, even New York, Mukherjee celebrated yet another milestone this weekend: the opening of a grand new flagship space in Mumbai, the city of dreams. His largest yet, the space stretches luxuriously across 25,862 sq ft within a romantic neo classical building that was originally built for the British Bank of The Middle East. Step inside, and one finds themselves no longer in the heart of South Mumbai, but instead in a fantasy land where more is more, and the telltale fragrance of rose and frankincense creates a heady ambience.
“When I started the store, it all looked fine on paper,” a proud Sabyasachi Mukherjee shares a day after the big night. “But we were halfway through it and things just went deep down south. We fell short of antiques massively… we found out we were short of about 50 paintings, 75 carpets, we completely underestimated the lighting, the chandeliers, and as we started counting we realized we needed to do 43 more chandeliers. The problem with a maximalist store is that it’s just never enough. It demands more and more and more and more. Three hours before the first guest came in, we finally put the last painting up, and the store was done!” Bringing together more than 100 hand-cut chandeliers, 275 carpets, 3,000 books and 150 works of art created by the Sabyasachi Foundation, Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s new store is what fantasies are made of. Creating a haven in the midst of a bustling city, the flagship is a feast for the eyes, replete with traditional Indian artworks, rare French Art Nouveau cabinets, 18th century Venetian handcrafted chairs, Tang dynasty pottery, and countless more treasures, all of which find their homes around floor after floor of Sabyasachi creations. While the ground floor offers up the Sabyasachi bridal collection, it also stands out for its micro-exhibit, a collection of archive pieces including couture from the inaugural Sabyasachi X Christian Louboutin showcase in 2015, and the following season in 2016. Head up to the first floor, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by sparkling jewelry sets by the couturier, a combination of his Fine, Heritage and the High Jewellery lines. Go one level higher to discover a vast range of mens and womenswear, along with international collections and accessories.
On the evening of the store launch, friends and family members of Sabyasachi Mukherjee from around the globe made their way for a first look at his labour of love, transforming the regal store into three-storey party house. There to celebrate his moment were the likes of Rani Mukerji, Christian Louboutin, and Rajkummar Rao, all of whom have paid an integral role in the designer’s journey. Guests walked in through a beautifully lit corridor to a playlist of yesteryear tunes (all handpicked by Mukherjee himself), then ascended to a room brimming with grazing boards loaded with fine cheese, caviar, truffles and stuffed dates. A soiree worthy of the months of hard work that went behind making a dream come true. Taking in the breathtaking surroundings that he has birthed, he reveals, “You know, I’ve often said that craft cannot skip a generation, because if craft skips a generation, you cut the roads. Craft cannot then continue. And my biggest concern for the new generation is that I don’t want them to understand craft only through history books. I want them to go into a living museum to see how beautiful the country was. The real hope is not just to have people buy my clothes, but to sensitize them towards the beautiful ecosystem of arts and crafts in this country.” As for which floor he counts as his favorite, there’s no hesitation from the couturier: “The jewelry floor,” he says immediately. “We’ve been expanding on jewelry category by category, now we have a jewelry store in Dubai, at Bergdorf. The jewelry floor here is the most lavish part of the store, it’s a tiny jewel in itself with a little tea room, beautiful artifacts, chandeliers, crystal and porcelain, crockery and cabinetry. It truly is about a very truly unique maximalism with impossible details.”
Not one to slow down his stride, Mukherjee is already setting his eyes on new ventures, which he promises will be revealed soon. Speaking about the Middle East and the special place it holds in his heart, he signs off with, “The Sabyasachi brand speaks to women in the Middle East because first of all, women in the Middle East love great quality, love special fabrics and embroideries, because they are highly sensitized towards craft, and they wear their clothes in a very beautiful, dignified manner. And our silhouettes lend to a very strong Middle Eastern aesthetic, which is an amalgamation of history, culture, craft, all with an ample dose of modernity.” Given his eye for all things spectacular, it comes as no surprise that the Middle East has its eye on the designer too.