Being a trained artist thinking visually comes naturally to Suneet Varma. This ICW 2019 he introduces icy hues to capture hearts and craft a wonder book filled with spiritual literacy
By Asmita Aggarwal
Painting is his oeuvre as he studied fine arts at London College of Fashion, and taught illustration at the National Institute of Technology, Delhi for 15 years. So whether he is putting deft strokes onto elephants that will be auctioned for charity or adding hues to his sketches, Suneet Varma is a master at his game. Sculpture, interiors, home, bags and jewellery and the subtle interaction of colour has been explored by the man, who started collaborations almost 10 years ago, when most brands were finding their feet. BMW took him to the Munich headquarters, the personalised area where he would learn what wealthy clients wanted–customisation. It could range from interiors resembling their farmlands back home or a starry night in the daytime. “I am a curious person and I like to explore unchartered territories. It is my desire to learn that gives me the fortitude to move ahead,” says Suneet.
It is this fire that led him to Artd’Inox where from festive, feminine ensembles he shifted his gaze to making home products out of steel, a material that was new to him unlike aluminium which he has worked with before to craft accessories. “Steel is tough you can mould it and make bridges out of it. I wanted to know what I could do to give it lustre, paint it or add gemstones. It was the exploration that gave me the thrill,” he smiles.
Investing his energy in myriad projects which included Judith Leiber, and dipping into their archives to understand the history, made him believe that when you open yourself to opportunity more come your way. “I also did a line of jewellery for World Gold Council (Azva), that they took to Cannes. I went ahead as I had trusted partners,” he explains.
Couture he believes is all about customisation, measure to measure for pleasure, catering to a bride’s dreams, if she wants the sleeve shorter, neckline deeper or choli longer, in India it is an age-old phenomenon to add something new to what we treasure—like a pendant to a necklace that we’ve owned proudly for three generations that makes us unique. “Where in the world do you have such freedom to get your saris woven in any part of the country? Or if you want someone will make a sari for you dripping with pearls or crystals, that’s where we come in,” he explains.
His inspirations have been varied from the Kapi museum to Belle Epoque or “beautiful era” in French history. It could be a vintage textile too, and then he builds a story around it with classic oxidised embroidery. “It is a process, nothing is definitive, embroidery and textures both can change from matte, glittery to threadwork, it must blend in with the ethos of the line,” he says.
Creation is a dream and stylised thought, it takes time to translate it to perfection with the help of skilled artisans, that’s why Suneet decided to pay homage to the “inner light”. Amara, his collection, is a tribute to all those people, who have a shining light within themselves, which serves as a beacon for others. “We have abandoned any kind of heaviness and embraced lightness, without making the bride feel bogged down or look like a showpiece at her own wedding. She must be able to enjoy a glass of champagne and dance on her D-Day,” he explains. There has been a distinctive shift away from reds and pinks, baring a few, but the move is towards “icy” everything including pastels.
With social media now governing and chronicling every move of an individual, Suneet admits most of his business is generated through this new business model and what kind of imagery he displays. “I would say almost 90 per cent of buying happens here and people are emailing us from all over the world from New Zealand to Los Angeles asking us to made-to-order for them. I would say it is now the biggest tool of communication,” he confirms.
After 30 years and many more in the offing, Suneet admits it’s a challenge to bring in new concepts and power them annually. “Creativity is unlike a 9-5 job, you need to feel happy and involved at all times. It never gets easier, but you have to keep at it, is my mantra,” he concludes.