March 18, 2018 Asmita Aggarwal

The Artist is Absent

 It was like a moonlit sonata, bright, with the colour of love red dominating Aneeth Arora’s mindscape, as she let winter be warm, cozy, sweet and mindful.

By Asmita Aggarwal

Just like there are 12 notes in the world of music that are arranged differently each time to create a new song, there are colours that have been mashed together, and fabrics that are recycled and upcycled to create a new pattern in the honeycomb of design.

So the Udaipur-born girl Aneeth Arora not just decided to do a Martin Margiela on us by disappearing totally, but before she did that she gave us dreams of a candy store, a perfect pink world, a colour that is now not one that determines your sex, but of empowerment and one that conjures up emotions of equality and egality.

 So what is it about Arora that gets halls full and people queuing up an hour before the show? There are no celebs, she does not appear to even take a bow? But what draws people in, is her presentation, whether it is a school girl in a classroom, a pajyma party or just a walk in the garden, all themes of her previous showcasing. And of course, her attention to details and commitment to crafts that even Rajeev Sethi to Neeru Kumar sit in attendance at her shows.

 A live band, a pink room (tune from Pink Panther playing gently in the background), a candy store, why not…Iris Apfel got a Barbie! Aneeth’s showed her unabashed love for colour—–tangerines, shocking reds a symbol of vitality and romance, coats she crafted out of Merino wool. It was like a child lost in a candy forest, where each one was more exciting then the next she savoured. Though she never once lost focus and told us how she is had soaked in sustainability by upcyling her trenches, with appliqué and patchwork.

pero 1

 There are no fancy embellishments in Pero, and in fact her styling includes an earful of hoops, Adidas slip ons and striped socks, and music… well has a man playing a large refill bottle of mineral water. So would we call Arora, a lover of austerity? Or a designer who likes to push the ‘do not cross’ line with Mashru, khadi, selvedge details and reversible jackets?

 A lot of customers often complain that Pero is unaffordable, but all hand-made items must be put in the same bracket as luxury; after all Arora’s first job at a hand-made paper making company taught her how to effectively use something humble and elevate it to a high octane status. Crochet flowers, tie and dye and chanderi as well as her love for lace was well exhibited as everyone left with a sweet taste in their mouth (no pun intended!) and each note played was music to the ears in a world that is obsessed with Rihanna and Kanye.


 Stefan Kye, composer and pianist along with Sparsh a brilliant opera singer, Lucia, a Berklee School of Music trained opera singer and Mathias a classical artist and Mallika an actor created improvised music with “nonsense lyrics” with the man who was behind the success of Parikrama Nitin Mullick at the show. “I put unlikely elements in the music, like chopsticks in the piano, and wedged in metal clamps so that the sounds are unique,” says Kye, the England-born musician, who was part of the Jazz Bastards, and has been living in India for the last 12 years and looks a bit like Elton John.

  “The pieces I wrote were gibberish and some words had sexual innuendo, but we mashed them together so you couldn’t tell. We based some pieces on the philosophy of German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen of fully using one note at a time,” he smiles. And even though the whole band has never worn designer wear before, specially Aneeth, Kye is happy to have one set finally in his wardrobe. “Earlier I found it so expensive, so I had to look for something in my budget or request a discount, now you see I have been gifted a set,” he laughs.

 In a crowded space like fashion where many resort to antics to grab attention, Aneeth decided to let her workers dressed in handloom saris enjoy the show and musicians play without a set direction. “I honestly don’t know much about fashion. I’ve been in music for the past 25 years and I can wake up at 5 am in the morning and do Dark side of the Moonfront to back and back to front. I wanted to get out my comfort zone and try something that would be like a child’s work. And, by chance, I figured Stefan is my neighbour. We started talking and that’s how he told me about the project. At the end of the day, I’m still singing here. It was a little challenging and intimidating at first. But, I really started enjoying it with practice. I think it’s a double treat for the audience because it’s not just a visual extravaganza, or a DJ playing, but they get to see the collective performance of many artists,” says Mullick who was surprised that people in fashion knew who he was.

 Mullick believes that music has 12 notes and from Kishore Kumar to Bohemian Rhapsody uses only these but admits that the musicality is different. “Today, you can actually sit in your room and make music on your computer and put it out there for the whole world to see. That’s the reason why there’s so much more music now, as compared to 20 years ago. There are now genres of music that weren’t even born at that time. So, of course, some of them create brilliant music and others don’t. It boils down to content. The story, theatricality and most of all it is the message that matters,” he adds.

And fashion? “These are my first designer clothes actually. I don’t know if I’m supposed to return them or keep them. But, I feel very comfortable in them instead of thick denims I came wearing,” he grins.

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