Only in the world of designer Nupur Kanoi will one find a collision—at breakneck speed, that too—of androgynous detailing and bohemian elements. Nupur’s personal punk aesthetics often translate into her design. However, the Kolkata-based designer, who launched her eponymous label in 2006, has always retained that she will never let go of her roots.
In fact, she is adept at maintaining an equilibrium of traditional fabric, embroidery, techniques and modern silhouettes. In conversation with us post the launch of her latest collection Sheesha at Aza, Delhi recently, Nupur discusses delving into the neo-nomad narrative for this collection, her brand’s muse, and more.
Your clothes have always reflected androgynous elements. How different or similar is this collection in that context?
Androgyny has been part of the brand’s ethos since the inception. Jackets, blazers, waistcoats, jumpsuits, pantsuits have been a constant over the years, but with every collection they take on different avatars. For Sheesha, the look is bohemian, so we paired them with fluid layers, mostly asymmetric with drawstring details. It is a queer mix of structure with soft construction.
From silhouettes to the colour palette, what’s new in Sheesha?
Sheesha is a demi-couture line, and is mainly occasion wear. Therefore, the silhouettes are India modern, playful and effortless at the same time. It is a balance between traditional and contemporary with attention to a sense of comfort and weightlessness. They can easily be dressed up or down or even styled as separates.
My favourites in this line are the ingenuous asymmetric layered pieces like the spaghetti singlet and wraps tops, which have been paired together with pants, blazers, skirts, and lungis to create jumpsuits, maxis, and dresses... they embody the bohemian spirit of the line. The pre-draped saris with pants come with zippers and snap buttons that spell androgyny in a fluid way.
The colours used in the embroidery and solid pieces are primary with tea-soaked overtones. Jade, dusty rose, and coconut, all come together almost awkwardly with the primary colours that are straight from the desert, in this 1920s meets neo-nomad narrative.
You are a backpacker, and have often mentioned that travel inspires you. What was the starting point for this collection?
A visit to a local handicraft fair where I spotted beautiful, hand-painted kalamkari dupattas was literally the starting point for the line. The peacocks and subdued colours struck the right chord at that moment when I was trying to curate things for our new home, which has a huge African influence, artefacts collected from my travels to Africa and, of course, everywhere else with a heavy Indian ethos. And just like that, Sheesha came about.
A collection that subtly reflects our relentless love for African and Indian tribal crafts with a penchant for folk art reimagined. A story that started back in 2017 and yet its’ roots stay strong in our design idealogy. A festive take on beadwork and mirror work, with a graphic undertone. The peacock print is a re-engineered traditional kalamkari design treated geometrically with reflective sequins and shine. We’ve also deliberately used bigger mirrors, that refrain from objectifying the wearer in a self-obsessed world.
Who is the Nupur Kanoi muse?
A woman who understands the beauty of handmade processes be it embroidery, dye techniques, or effortless drapes that are actually highly-detailed and created to suit all body types. They may appear to be brave at first, but the Nupur Kanoi muse likes to dabble with these aspects and create her own identity, yet somehow being rooted in tradition. A global traveller with a free spirit who knows that the details are not the details, they make the design.
Have you thought of diversifying beyond clothing. If so, what’s next for the brand?
Accessories and menswear are the next product lines that we are hoping to diversify into in the future.