Sabyasachi Mukherjee Opens His Doors
Uniquely Indian and charming, designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee's home is an accurate reflection of the person he is.
We've always known that Sabyasachi Mukherjee is a very private man. You see a lot of him in the press in content with his fashion brand, SABYASACHI, but very little of his life in any other way.
The Sabyasachi stores contain what is one of the most comprehensive collection of vintage portrait photography in the country. In the Kolkata outlet, there are evocative picture of multiple generations of Parsi family, dressed fully regal and majestic, taken in Bombay 1940's - 50's. In Hyderabad, you'll find a pristine manicure and pedicure set that had once belonged to a maharaja. Two portraits of South Indian girls, one of whom vaguely resembles the late singer MS Subbulakshmi.
The stores are a starting point for an impending career diversion. Last year, Mukherjee designed a suite at the Taj Group Hotel in London, and now he plans on doing more public spaces. He is convinced that he'll never work with a private client.
"Even if it was a perfect customer, I wouldn't do it; I cannot collaborate. I feel cheated if I can't use an idea because someone else doesn't like it."
- Sabyasachi Mukherjee
A Room Of One's Own
Mukherjee owns three apartments in Kolkata, but lives in a rented at on the topmost floor of a stout, modernist block because he loves the energy of it:
"My first apartment was bought by my parents when I was on holiday. I hated it because it was on the ground floor and everyone could see my bedroom." - SM
Mukherjee opened everything up to create a owing one-bedroom pad that looks out to a large terrace garden.
The home is a shy contrast to Mukherjee's accessories-filled stores. It is a functional, charming apartment that on the afternoon of our photoshoot, was filled with the scent of home-cooked Bengali food. Mukherjee's stamp is firmly on it, but it's not overpowering, there's no clutter at all.
The flat is outfitted with beautifully crafted, solid wood furniture sourced from Kolkata's auction houses and retailers. The large windows bring in plenty of light, making the place conversely, very cosy. There are a few pieces of art, mostly Dhruvi Acharya, and canvases by a Bengali artist nurtured by the Sabyasachi Art Foundation.
The sheers at the windows are khadi sari from Sally Holkar, founder of Women Weavers (an NGO specialising in Maheshwari Sari).
"That's a print community that I'm working with because they have complicated print forms. I tried making it popular by getting Vidya Balan to wear them in Paa. It's called Fadak." - SM
If there's one word that you can associate Mukherjee with it's: 'nostalgia'.
His expectations are set high long ago, during his childhood spent in an impossibly beautiful setting: a large bungalow in Chandannagar, the old French colony outside Kolkata. The designer has been often quoted talking about a youth filled with storybook activities like climbing trees, stealing mangoes from neighbour's orchards, going to school in a hand-rowed boat.
"I don't want to say I recline in nostalgia but I like this element of intimacy; it keeps you real" - SM
And 'real' is perhaps the best way to describe him.