The Kriti Sanon-Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer, Raabta, might not have fared very well at the box office, but its costumes certainly have grabbed many eyeballs. Especially those of Jilan, the kohl-eyed warrior in his leather armour, his masks and his footwear. All of which are the creation of Vipul Amar, Harsheen Arora and Gireesh S. Nair of design company, The V Renaissance (TVR), who poured hours of labour, love and research in creating these dazzling pieces in leather.
A thrilled Amar, however, tells us that this is nothing compared to the “huge surprise and amazing news” that he and his team are going to give us in a couple of months. “Yes, it’s that big—it’s not a copy or inspired from anything that existed before, it’s totally Bollywood and Indian, and it’s a never-before, never-seen thing that has been visualised and designed from scratch by us.”
While we wait for the big news to spill out, let’s look at the journey this four-year-old Delhi-based designer team has had so far. TVR creates furniture lines, leather handbags and travel bags, custom wears, jackets and even lingerie—all out of leather. Not just that, they also create photographic art on canvas and wallpapers as well as niche stationery such as card holders, book jackets, office supplies, brass monogram buttons, cufflinks and lapel pins.
They create what their designer souls crave; they create without worrying about cost or effort or whether it would be a good sell. “The only thing that drives us is the vision in our heads,” says Amar. That’s what brought the three together in the first place. “We connect on a common point. We do things we want. And if one good day someone wants it, voila!” That’s the reason there’s no room for discounts and negotiations at TVR; if you like the piece of art, you accept it for what it’s priced at.
The trio specialises in bespoke leather designs and when it says ‘bespoke,’ it means it. “Whatever we create is just that one piece and for that one client. Although I have tried to replicate some of these for my own collection, to keep as a memento, to remind myself of the creative struggle from time to time, that piece might have been just that special, but it has seldom happened in reality because of the huge time, effort, and cost each single piece of work demand,” Amar explains.
Arora agrees: “TVR is all about bespoke and attention to detail. We strive to make every piece that we craft as unique as our client.” While Amar and Arora are the artists in this venture, Nair is a graphic designer by training and is the company’s vice-president who manages the business aspect such as finances and management.
Amar comes from a family that for generations ran an international business in natural food emulsifiers. Natural ingredients and natural processes play a key role in his work. So after 2007, when he closed down the operations in the UK and Germany in an attempt to reinvent the primary business, he decided to spearhead his energies in creating and designing stuff that his artistic mind wanted. He had in any case been dabbling in designing leather bags for himself and decided to take this seriously.
Just at that time, along came psychologist Harsheen Arora who nursed a similar spirit. Both wanted to do something unique, apart from their respective occupations as a businessperson and psychologist. A post-graduate in clinical psychology from the University of Wales, UK, Arora ran her own clinic and together with Amar, launched Stupid Eye, a research project that explored how people want to be seen or perceived and how they envision themselves.
Amar then brought photography to the combination and tried to present the true self of these persons in front of the camera. Arora says that through Stupid Eye, they learned that people express their inner selves in many varying ways, and hence TVR was a natural progression from that foundation.
“For two years, after launching TVR in 2013, we researched how leather can be processed naturally, sans chemicals, to produce natural looking hide. We exposed the raw leather to heat, smudges, studied how cooling affects it, how oil stains it, until we mastered the process. TVR leather is handmade in our workshop, it doesn’t get processed in tanneries,” explains Amar. And that’s the USP.