March 20, 2021 Asmita Aggarwal

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Nitin Bal Chauhan explores the ‘Insta-everything’ culture with his 3D embroideries and fluid organza

By Asmita Aggarwal

He comes from a family of IAS and IPS officers so it is not surprising that his decision to work in the creative field and not study economics from Hansraj College, came as a shock to his erudite family. But what is pre-ordained to happen, does even if there is deadly human interference! That’s what makes Nitin Bal Chauhan truly destiny’s child, in more ways than one.

A friend’s brother was studying in NIFT and that was Bal’s first introduction to the world of sketching, fashion, styling and it swept him off his well-heeled feet. He was smitten. He pursued it like a first love and graduated with honours. He knew it was his natural calling, and then there was no stopping him. The campus buzzing with boom box, students studying under the shade of trees, songs by Gulzar saheb playing in the background made Bal feel at home. It was the start of a new adventure!

Mostly you will remember Bal for his Salvador Dali-esque moustaches, which may not have the Italian surrealist’s  gravity defying upward twirl, but they do embody a certain inbred swing. The same abandon can be seen in Bal the designer! From his avid reading interests which range from Kafka (yes Kafka) to painting portraits, and of course playing the guitar during the time when we all were questioning the future of mankind after Covid hurt us both mentally and emotionally, searing us financially, Nitin looked at the bright spot.

He self-introspected, used this time to look at what he can do that will make clothing pragmatic. He observed the instagram culture, where everything is “haute” for exactly 45 seconds till the next thing catches everyone’s fancy. “Fashion is individualistic and people are always insecure they want to stand out in a crowd. Even though you see a lot happening on social media the only trend that is ‘in’ right now is practical clothing,” she says.

What the pandemic has taught designers is to look at the Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 price points and focus on things that last. When Bal designs he looks at both tangibles and intangibles— from colours and how he will be able to translate his themes to workable clothing. So this year it is about “fake friends” on social media, who appear on screen but never off it, who will never rush to your side if you have an emergency or share a poem on a rainy day by your window sill, but will be the first to send you an emotionless emoji.

The techniques used range from 3 D embroideries, and he has done some magical things with it, to neutral colours that reflect the mood as well as this effortless fluid organza that is imported from Korea to realise his collection.  “I was clear about what I wanted to show. My friend once told me you choose your life condition, whether it is up, down or middle you need to sustain it and find your life’s correct setting. I just feel the world was a lot more fun without everyone being on social media, sharing things that sometimes should remain intimate,” he adds.

Modern women face many challenges, he feels as they are bombarded with images of how they need to be, corporates are selling improbable dreams based on their insecurities. Then they give silly punch lines massaging salt on their wounds. “Some women are born strong, they can fight it, others succumb. Just like fashion, some are conformists, others interesting misfits,” he explains.

Bal, this year has also debuted his menswear line, with 3 D embroidery contraptions, as he is depicting a cocktail party in the virtual world that is taking place. He and his better half wrote the script for the film, like always they work as a team and wanted to keep the silhouettes clean, light and modern making his gowns breezy abandoning the bulky layering.

The future for Bal is about painting more portraits this year, working on installation art using embroidery techniques and delving deeper into couture. “I like details, and hand work processes which are laborious, I like to scratch the surface to explore and be awake every day, so couture it just right for me,” he signs off.

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