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In a constantly evolving fashion market, it takes more than just creating beautiful clothes to stay relevant. And Sabyasachi Mukherjee has cracked that code, creating couture that is more than occasionwear, steeped in tradition with a poetic undertone. Mukherjee’s every piece exudes nostalgia and paints a picture of bygone elegance. Think exquisite chiffon or georgette sarees with whimsical prints, paired with a diamond neckpiece and crimson lips. He has found meaning in what many designers leave behind and refurbished it to ensure that it appeals to discerning women the world over. 

The designer is celebrating 20 years in the business, and over the past two decades, his every new creation has presented India in a new light. Because of this, everyone from the biggest Bollywood stars and royalty, to brides everywhere, are Sabyasachi loyalists. 

To celebrate the milestone, the designer took to social media via a series of Instagram videos shot at his Kolkata home. “I want to say a big thank you to everybody, people who have loved us, criticised us. When I started out, there was no fashion industry in Calcutta so I could not explain why I would leave medicine to get into fashion. But clearly, everybody carves their own destiny. Dreams do come true. I wanted to do something for myself, and I am glad I did what I did.” 

Here is a look back at 10 of his most stunning creations. 

Priyanka Chopra in a Sabyasachi corset and lehenga 

 

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For her Mumbai reception last year, Priyanka Chopra relied on Mukherjee’s exquisite taste. In his own signature style, he wove tradition and modernity together in this brocade corset with a matching lehenga from his ‘Curiosity, Art and Antiquity Project’. With tea-stained and acid-burnt zardosi borders, Mukherjee gave Chopra’s outfit a vintage feel. He paired the look with his statement Victorian necklace in rose-cut and fine-cut diamonds, a pair of rose-cut studs, and a pile of bangles from the Sabyasachi Heritage Jewelry collection.

Deepika Padukone in a Sabyasachi lehenga

 

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Deepika and Ranveer’s big fat Italian wedding was complemented with a Mumbai reception. And the bride wore Sabyasachi finery as part of her Frida Kahlo-inspired look. A heavily embroidered floral lehenga-blouse, a veil supported by a rose headdress, and kohl-rimmed eyes defined Padukone as a new-age bride. 

Archana Akil Kumar in a Sabyasachi saree 

 

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Mukherjee’s sophisticated take on Indian textiles places him at the forefront of the ‘Made In India’ revolution, and this saree is proof. Made in black woven khadi and zari with antique zardosi border details and hand-crafted tribal tassels, it is paired with a full-sleeved khadi blouse and a spectacular ‘tilla’ work miniature gilet. Chunky folk jewellery brings the look together. 

Kangana in Sabyasachi 

 

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Cannes Film Festival 2018 saw Kangana Ranaut shutting down the red carpet in a black Sabyasachi saree. An ultra-glamorous drape, it was hand-dyed and embellished with hand-cut sequins that were individually sewn using zardosi technique to create a metallic yet fluid fabric. Her look was accessorised with a Sabyasachi bag and the teenmaniya choker necklace, crafted with rare rose-cut diamonds, Colombian emeralds, and Basra pearls from the Sabyasachi Heritage Jewelry Collection. 

Sabyasachi for Lane Crawford 

 

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In 2017, Sabyasachi collaborated with Hong Kong-based luxury retailer Lane Crawford to create a capsule collection. Veering away from his traditional bridal couture, he concentrated on a lighter aesthetic – embroidered dresses, see-through shirts, and flapper dresses.  A part of the same collection were these dresses made in soft sheer tulle with floral velvet appliques, hand-embroidered and held together by beaded fringes to give the outfit dramatic appeal. 

Exquisite embroideries

 

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Sabyasachi can be credited for engaging in some of the rarest skill-intensive and time-consuming embroidery techniques. This is what makes his work one-of-a-kind. As a part of his Firdaus couture collection, he created floor-length jackets, velvet kaftans, and dresses, and juxtaposed rich hues against gold embroidery. This piece, with its dense embroidery, is testimony to Mukherjee’s commitment to excellence. 

Kanishtha Dhankar in Sabyasachi’s ‘Firdaus’ 

 

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As a part of his Winter/Festive 2016 showcase, even though everyone was gushing over his collaboration with Christian Louboutin, for us, it was this fur-lined jacket with sequinned culottes and heels on model Kanishtha Dhankar that became a highlight of the show, proving Sabya’s range. 

Sabyasachi’s ‘Bater’ 
Sabyasachi's 'Bater' collection. Image:Courtesy FDCI
Image: Courtesy FDCI

That bridal fashion can be devoid of traditional Indian hues is what Sabyasachi’s 2015 collection ‘Bater’ proved, giving cues to brides who were on a lookout for something edgy. Yes, there were pieces in reds, browns, and oranges, but what stood out was this head-to-toe sequinned look. This full sleeved mermaid gown, with layers of sequinned detailing, was one of the highlights of the presentation. 

Anushka Sharma in Sabyasachi 
Actress Anushka Sharma and cricketer Virat Kohli at their Delhi reception. Image:Courtesy Pinterest
Image: Courtesy Pinterest

Besides Deepika, another Bollywood bride that relied on the ace couturier was Anushka. Back-to-back at five occasions, Anushka chose some of the most elaborate Sabyasachi lehengas, but for her Delhi reception, she went mainstream ethnic and picked up a red and gold Benarasi, paired with an uncut diamond choker and jhumkas from the Sabyasachi Bridal Jewelry collection. 

Sabyasachi jewels 

 

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Fine jewellery has become an extension of brand Sabyasachi. And among his exquisitely crafted rani haars, chokers and timaniyas, this one-of-a-kind neckpiece made in Golconda diamonds and set in platinum, stands out. Its pairing with a classic cotton drape sums of the quintessential Sabyasachi vibe. 

Anupam Dabral
Sr. Associate Editor
It was while studying fashion journalism at London College of Fashion that Anupam developed a keen interest in the anthropological aspect of the discipline; for him, fashion only makes sense when seen in the context of its environment. He is always on the hunt for great stories, and in his spare time binge-watches films/shows starring Whoopi Goldberg, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.