Kalyani Chawla, owner of Rezon luxury silverware, calls fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukerjee someone with “Bengali creativity and the astute sense of Marwari business”.
“That’s why he is so successful,” she adds.
The Kolkata-based designer, known to be most sought-after designer in the country, especially in the growing wedding market, recently showcased his exclusive high-end jewellery at The Oberoi, Delhi to an intimate, but discerning audience.
There is no doubt that Delhiites love to buy expensive jewellery.
His “dream” couture has dressed the likes of Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Katrina Kaif, Vicky Kaushal, Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli.
Though the designer dresses down in a simple, white kurta-pyjama, a mark of the bhadralok and showing solidarity with the motto of austerity, he has been serenading the rich and mighty, with a store opened recently in New York, as he is flush with capital. ABFRL heavily invested in him, buying 51% stake, elevating his international ambitions.
This is the same boy from Chandannagar, an obscure part of Bengal, who started in 1999 with Rs 20,000, a loan from his father, who belonged to the middle-class. Today, he is worth more than Rs 100 crore.
Recently he tied up with Morgenthal Frederics, a luxury eyewear company that was part of his Delhi show. The eyewear was worn by Indrani Dasgupta, his long-time muse and the Park Hotel heiress, who has also modelled for him. He also showcased his line of baubles at the prestigious Bergdorf Goodman, a luxury departmental store in USA.
His last show was at the fashion week in 2016, and since then he has been reclusive, announcing his collections on social media only and avoiding any kind of multi-designer events.
“Sabyasachi is very lucky to have Malvika Poddar (of Carma, the posh designer store in Delhi), who put everything from the set, décor, guest list to the selection of snacks, grazing table among other things together for him so lavishly that it conditioned the guests in a certain way. This alone gave him an edge over other designers. The clothes were good, the jewellery better. The ‘Sabyasachi experience’ is always memorable,” says industrialist Vikram Baidyanath who was dazzled by the presentation.
Sumathi Raheja, a long-time admirer and buyer of Sabyasachi, exclaims, “His jewellery is beautifully designed and crafted. The pieces are creative and unique. They reflect the extensive cultural heritage of India. According to me, Sabyasachi is an iconic designer, as he draws on the vast vocabulary of Indian design and crafts, with his unique aesthetic, sensitivity, and intelligence. His commitment to integrity, to his vision in the field of design, is truly remarkable.”
Malvika, who has been a friend of Sabyasachi and his biggest supporter admits that when “Sabya” came to her asking to do a show in Delhi for his jewellery, she was overjoyed.
“Sabya creates wonders and he has always told me that the Delhi market is by far the best, so this is the right place to showcase his most coveted pieces. It is also one of the most evolving markets and dynamic in nature with a varied customer base,” she adds.
Sabyasachi has been Kalyani Chawla’s friend for almost 30 years now. As a mark of honour, she wore a vintage sari from his line for the showcasing.
She believes his jewellery has an old-world charm. “Most fine jewellery karigars are from Bengal and known for their craftsmanship. He truly brought in the best for a global audience.”
What she admires is his great determination, staying under the radar, letting his work speak, working to build a brand after she saw him at his first store and factory in Kolkata.
“He picked me up from the airport and took us to his factory, adding his jewellery line in a small way then. [Now] I saw the show in Delhi, from where to where, he has reached; fabulous, his rise,” she says.
He has captured what is extremely clever in fashion — “the look”. He has a distinct feel, which comes with the jewellery.
“Every single bride I meet, thanks to my own silver business, I ask them, ‘what are you wearing?’ Nine out of 10 will say Sabyasachi. So, in many ways he has gone beyond just aspiration,” adds Kalyani.
The show was beautifully-styled, as the clothes complemented the jewellery. But he is a Bengali from Kolkata, and remains rooted to his cultural heritage.
His jewellery takes you to the time of royalty and his careful choice of words to describe his pieces include “deconstructed jadau”. Think 120 carats of rare sherbet-toned tourmalines with old mine cut and brilliant cut diamonds or a complex symmetry of emeralds, rubies, tourmalines, sapphires, spinels, amethysts, turquoises and tanzanites set with VVS-VS diamonds.
Or over 100 carats of cut and cabochon tourmalines set with old mine cut and brilliant cut diamonds, almost art deco glamour. To add to this unabashed glamour were footwear by Christian Louboutin.
“Since the launch of Sabyasachi Jewellery, it has been my mission to make and showcase the finest of Indian jewellery craftsmanship across the world. I think it was finally time for my first high jewellery show in India. I wanted it to be an intimate and focussed affair for my customers in India.
“The collection combines the best of craftsmanship, aesthetic exuberance and the most exclusive of gemstones. I really wanted to push the boundaries of Sabyasachi Jewellery,” says Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who also launched India’s first branded mangalsutra.
Naina Redhu, who was the woman lensman shooting the runway at the glittering evening, says the beauty of working with him is the creative freedom.
“We were all dressed in black. I am guessing that is his favourite colour as his 20th anniversary show also, some years ago, in Mumbai, had a similar sentiment. Plus, the directives are always clear and the food and decor decadent, especially the grazing table with the most delicious cake and Hors d’oeuvres,” she laughs, guessing that Delhi likes to live larger-than-life always.