July 29, 2023 FDCI

Layering Thoughts

Vedas to swishing sculpted gowns, Gaurav Gupta can make the twain meet, just like his showstopper Jahanvi K., who’s hybrid heritage makes a winning statement.

By Asmita Aggarwal

If monikers are anything to go by, Gaurav Gupta has mastered the art—here’s an impressive list—“Shunya”, “Hiranyagarbha”, and words like “meteoric”, “galactic”, interspersed with elements of numerology, astrology, and more recently the ‘Vedas’ are often used to describe his oeuvre.

Think Cardi B in green, Megan Thee Stallion at the 2022 Oscars and Sharon Stone on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, GG is now the newest strongman from this side of the Atlantic, at the Haute Couture Week calendar in Paris. It was his training at CSM and then Hussein Chalayen, which instilled confidence to give a fluid structure to swooning gowns, swishing with sculpted shapes.

Often called futuristic, his presentation will be larger-than-life, models ‘walking’ on water, sparkling galaxies hanging from the roof, maybe that’s why Fan Bing Bing, Eva Green and Lady Gaga are his prized devotees, as they understand GG and his fantastical trips. To achieve these unique representations there are always metals, pearls, zardosi, nakshi techniques, which support his unpredictable tailoring.

This year, Gaurav Gupta takes a deep dive into the soul and its cravings—-thus the name Hiranyagarbha, mentioned in Rig Veda. “Hiranyagarbha is the one who is glorified in Vedic verses and taught in yoga literature and is also a name for Brahma in Puranic Hinduism because he was born from a golden egg”. “It is because it has the answers to mind-boggling things we can imagine, only if we truly understand. This time I kept thinking where did creation emerge from? The universe and all that it holds, where did it all begin? Fascinated by this question, I found myself struck by wonderment for the concept of Hiranyagarbha,” says Gaurav.

The Vedas, one of the most ancient Indian scriptures sing of Hiranyagarbha – Hiranya translates as golden and garbha, the womb. All of creation is thought to have emerged from this primal golden womb through which everything and therefore nothing arose. It is in the pristine nothingness where all possibilities of metamorphosis swim, this collection takes birth.

More of a conceptual artist, is it the infinite, the couturier searches through his tryst with clothing? Or is he perfecting the mastery over fit and fall over the last 18 years, since he launched the label, and now his brother is also involved taking care of finances and production, leaving GG to work on his creative vision?

 “It is an age-old question from any artist and it is always difficult to align commercial and creative visions. However, with time and experience, every artist finds his balance,” he says, responding to how he attains symmetry in his complex construction which has wooed the top musicians in the world. “For us it is more like driving the culture by collaborating with culturists across the globe. I do not perceive them as stars per se. I see them as drivers of change, as icons, who have changed the world with their individualism and voices. And by collaborating, I get to support individuals who are authentic in their style and with what they do,” he adds.

Couture is technical wizardry and has a mesmeric halo, but techniques are the show stealers, as this genre is a pure tale of Indian craftsmanship. “We are an Indian brand making couture in India itself. Since the beginning, we have employed traditional textiles of ancient embroidery techniques like zardozi, aariwork, etc.  by working with generational artisans who have mastered their craft over several years. And draping is part of our DNA which, as a technique, predominantly belongs to India,” he adds.

You can credit GG for adding diversity in Indian ceremonial dressing, and the beauty of it all is, he never works with “references” or “travels” but he is astute enough to know this is the future– Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, and Billboard Awards red carpets celebrities need a closet and GG is focusing on providing solutions.

Being his second show, he has been learning since he debuted in January this year. “Our teams were better prepared and equipped to handle all contingencies, we had backups and backups of our backups given that most of our team was still operating from back home. Coming back for the second show in Paris, felt like a homecoming. I felt like I belonged here, and the city always greets me with such warmth and magic that it never really leaves me,” he confesses.

 Couture today embodies carefree elegance and a form of self-expression and “I think it always has”, but intellect is what the overriding theme is. “I approach couture from a very pure school of thought. From there only it starts shaping itself as a concept, like how it was with Hiranyagarbha this time. And it’s for you (the audience) to say or perceive it as intellectual. All my inspirations are subliminal are layered and within layers, it reveals itself,” he concludes.

As screens in the background at DLF Emporio lit up with starbursts and comet showers, GG presented whites and blacks — menswear with placement embroideries, pussy bows, neon greens, hooded gowns, sinuous drapes coiled around the waif thin figures. Now lehengas come with superhero capes not duppattas in emerald greens with padded protrusions and long trails sans any embellishment.

The smear of embroidery that appeared in splashes accentuating shoulders of menswear in charcoals, along with sequins replaced by buckles for accessories on roomy pants, as well as the star kid who won a genetic lottery Jahanvi Kapoor getting the best of her Punjabi heritage and South Indian roots made sure, GG built a bridge between two disparate worlds!

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