Elegant reflections

Designer Abhinav Mishra on his flagship store in the city and more
Images from Abhinav Mishra’s collection ‘Tara Sitara
Images from Abhinav Mishra’s collection ‘Tara Sitara

An existential threat that one thought might lurk in the shadows in a post-pandemic fashion world is whether brick-and-mortar spaces would only serve to leverage digital businesses. The reality, however, remains that stores are now experiential zones that ensure consumers a sartorial experience rounded off with a visual one. “One does want to touch, feel, try, and then eventually experience a label in person—the feeling you get from visiting a store and picking out your favourite ensemble is priceless,” shares city-based designer Abhinav Mishra, whose flagship store—it claims a two-storeyed, 1,770 sqft space within the urban sprawl of the city—opened doors this Saturday. The designer’s Chattarpur store can be called a vision turned into reality, one that deftly bridges his past and present. Mishra has drawn inspiration from cities that brim over with grandiose architecture. Two in particular include Lucknow—where he’s from—and Delhi—the city where he’s at. “I have used this space to express myself in different, newer ways,” he adds, as he talks about his design language, his signature mirror-work—it also features on walls and draperies of the store—and more. Excerpts…

You worked on the Abhinav Mishra label from 2009, however, it was officially launched in 2015. Take us through your journey—starting out in Lucknow, moving to Delhi when you were 17, and now being recognised as a go-to brand for traditional, bridal wear. What design, business values have remained from inception; what has evolved?
My label was more like a passion project back when I started out in wedding design and décor. We officially started Rani Pink [his wedding décor label] in 2015 alongside my eponymous clothing label.
The journey has been exhilarating and challenging, especially when you are new to a city and have to start from scratch. But we have received a lot of love over the years, and I can humbly say that we have created a niche for ourselves as a brand. Immense hard work, self-belief, and a true love for my work is what kept me going and I feel that is always what brings you success.

Over time, you’ve ventured into bridal- and resort-wear along with ensembles for men and women. What remains synonymous is your use of mirror-work across segments. How did you narrow down to this technique so as to create a niche in the fashion space? Also, what other indigenous techniques do you experiment with?
I think it is evident that mirror-work and I have a lifelong romance, and it has come to be my signature. I have always admired the technique and from day one, it has been something I have liked to experiment with, whether for womenswear or menswear. We have gone from traditional and Indo-fusion to even resort-wear with this technique.My design ideology is to fuse modern cuts with traditional embroideries and mirror-work using a range of colours. We also work with Gota, cut dana, threadwork, other techniques, all the while presenting mirror-work in more unique ways.

You just launched your flagship store in Delhi on Saturday. The store—in a way—merges your love
for décor and fashion. Tell us about conceptualising this retail space.
My new store in Chattarpur, Delhi, draws inspiration from the havelis of Lucknow and my travels across Jaipur and other cities, replete with our signature mirrors, grand arches, and pillars. Taking inspiration from Mughal architecture and the timeless beauty of Sheesh Mahal, the space feels like a palace of mirrors. There is a feeling of ‘old meets new’, which is a conscious decision on my part as the space does feel like a second home to me. Expect the space to evolve as my inspiration goes along, in tandem with new collections and launches.

Give us an insight into your latest couture collection, Tara Sitara.
Tara Sitara is homage to its namesake in the night sky and the secrets of passion they guard. It is inspired by the Sufi readings on love and its ability to bring tranquillity to the world. The collection features sweeping panelled lehengas, intricate blouses, floor-gazing shararas, and tulle dupattas for women; star-kissed kurtas with signature mirror-work for men. In this collection, we have used gota and larger-sized mirrors. You can see multiple hand techniques and embroideries such as French knots, but the gota work is definitely the highlight of this collection.

What’s next for you as a designer?
We are working on an exciting resort-wear collection and leaning towards a more accessible western prêt line that will be coming out soon. Of course, our bridal 2023 collection is underway and should follow soon. My mind is buzzing with new ideas as this is a canvas that I love to work on and the future is very exciting.

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The New Indian Express