Ujjawal Dubey’s ode to Portuguese writer Pessoa’s works comes through his monochromes, pleating and sharp draped constructions.
By Asmita Aggarwal
Human psychology dictates our choices and that’s why trends are seasonal, we get tired and long for new disruptions that’s how fashion survives—on this fervent need for change. Antar-Agni by Ujjawal Dubey has been courting minimalism and monochromes, since 2014 when he began his journey into menswear. Now men come alone, shop alone and take decision based on what like, not depending on their wife or partners to choose, thus the label focuses on subtle detailing, impactful structuring which sometimes can be overwhelming for a corporate honcho, when he turns around and tells the designer, “I won’t be comfortable in a draped jacket or a layered kurta”, but when he tries the minimal fabrics and maximalist construction, he finds it easy to navigate his day in.
The ideology is to combine two contrasts, making silhouettes that offer freedom, thus his FDCIXLFW line has fabric-on-fabric explorations, abstract motifs made in-house, this was a result of months of “introspection”. Ujjawal stumbled upon a literary giant, Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa, who never published his own books, but under a pseudonym. Some of his unpublished work was found in a trunk and one particular book caught his attention titled, “The Book of Disquiet”. It reveals how hope is a misnomer, and he negates life with his simple yet deep analysis, a bit existential in its approach.
“The tobacco shop was a poem that I was greatly moved by and this put me on a trek to begin making interesting textures,” says Ujjwal. His work is mood-based, freefalling almost and the process is endearing—he is moved by what he sees, observes and whatever happens during this duration of creation becomes an integral part of the collection. Thus, you can see how even water spills (seepage) mimicking “dampness of the mind” are converted into surfaces. Coming from West Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur, he came to the big city Delhi, to pursue his dreams but learnt quite quickly that life is unpredictable and some things are beyond your control. “It is all about the mind, it is a bad master but a good slave,” he adds.
The FDCIXLFW line has a vast shade palette from ivories to mint, with mud green accents, creating a spectrum for occasion wear, dhotis with jackets with the buyer accessorizing it individualistically. Drapes and sharp cuts in linens and cotton blends, pleating and geometric pin tucks, make each piece wearable. Another dimension of the line is his collaboration with artist Siraj Saxena, through which they crafted ceramic jewellery used on shoes and bags. Opening his store in Lado Sarai and hoping to foray Kolkata, Ujjawal has focused on quality and construction, learning along the way, and adding finer detailing each time elevating the product. “When I look back, I feel satisfied at what I have achieved,” he concludes.