From swashbuckling cricket to the inordinate looms, it has been a thrilling journey for Amalraj, as the first timer at AIFW 2015 is taking measured steps towards nurturing an unequivocal identity
By Asmita Aggarwal
He used to play cricket for Kolkata Under 19 and could smash the fastest ball with an effortless, clean swipe, so when Amalraj showed no interest in academics, his parents let him choose a career that made him happy! It was after Class 10, when fashion design was included as a subject in the ICSE syllabus that Kolkata-based Amalraj Sengupta discovered true love. Passion for design became his pursuit, which culminated in his applying for NIFT and winning the emerging designer award at the Van Heusen Men’s Fashion Week.
The forthright 28-year-old is not a man in a hurry, and neither is he interested in making bridal wear to ‘become rich’, as he says, he’d rather follow slow, rather than fast fashion. So after doing some freelance work in the capital city, and admitting he didn’t find a job, despite many failed attempts, Amalraj launched his label in 2008.
“My forte is construction and patterns and not embroidery and embellishments. So the play is in the colour blocking rather than surface texturing. Fashion for me, is all about statement-making, less about what is in vogue. That way I am an old school boy, I prefer timeless, over fads, so most of my offerings are bespoke, people come to me with their old jackets; I cut them up and add elements, giving them a new character,” he says.
NIFT Kolkata, besides teaching him the nuances of design, also honed his skills in crisis management, dealing with testing deadlines and awry temperaments that helped him while setting up his business. “My father deals with scientific equipments, so no one is exposed to fashion; my elder sister is a teacher, I am the only odd ball at home. But my parents told me even if you cut grass, be the best at it. There is no small or big work, work is work, you must dignify it with giving your 100 per cent,” he smiles.
Autumn-winter 2015 for Amalraj is inspired by tribes, even though it has folk-sy undertones, it doesn’t have the usual bold prints and tattoos converted into fine lines, rather it is linear in its approach and the Red Indians who are a muse, for Amalraj find a modern interpretation, thematically. “The collection has sporty elements, with an exuberant usage of cotton, Bishnupuri silks from Bengal, to create a mood for layering in a palette that woos ochre, greys and blacks,” he says.
Despite the sea of designers, labels wanting to finish the race first, Amalraj is on the other hand, hoping to create an unmistakable identity, rather than hoping to make replicas of what sells at supersonic speed. And Kolkata gives him the advantage of calmness, craftsmanship, performing arts and literature. “There is a lot of inspiration around, but I am not looking for instant growth, and if that means refusing to send free outfits to Bollywood starlets for red carpet appearances, and not making it to the twitter craze, so be it,” he concludes.