Gaurav Gupta’s Panther Prowls in Paris

By: Snighdha Ahuja

The designer’s second showcase at the Haute Couture week in Paris marks a sense of arrival, amped with signature couture and a splash of A-list celebrities

On July 6, Haute Couture Week marked its final day in Paris. It was also the day META, the American multinational launched an app to make Twitter obsolete—a real-time, conversation starter called Threads that garnered 10 million sign-ups in a few hours. As brands and celebrities took their time to hop on to the platform, fan accounts mushroomed at the speed of light—and among them, a tribe sharing photographs and captions celebrating American rapper-musician Cardi B’s Haute Couture appearances. On top: a lime green creation by Gaurav Gupta. Fitted like second skin and finished with a puffer cape, it became the glamour and glue that put Indian designer’s work on viral display. Gupta, has dressed the musician twice before, most noticeably in an electric blue ensemble that made it to many a best-dressed list at the Grammy Awards in February this year and then in true fashion, went “viral”.

In Paris, as the attention switched from Cardi to Chinese actor Fan Bingbing wearing another iteration of Gupta’s micro pleated and moulded gown for the show, it was clear that everyone wanted a piece of ‘GG’.

Gupta, who has clocked almost two decades in the Indian fashion industry, has steadfastly stood for contemporary fashion that is individualistic, conceptual and more often than not, experimental. In Paris, as he showcased his Autumn/Winter 2024 collection ‘Hiranyagarbha’ the designer built on his strongest suites and signatures, while keeping the idea of the red carpet at the centre.

A Design Refresh

In India, Gupta is also known as a bridalwear designer besides the ballroom dressing he creates. His pre-draped cocktail sari is among the brand’s most sought after creations apart from the use of mixed hand-done embroideries along with techniques like boning that builds structure into fluid fabrics.

For ‘Hiranyagarbha’ he casts these elements in different moulds. There are milk white gowns that flow to the floor elegantly, as a structured cape appears, almost halo-like, to mirror one of the biggest trends from the couture season—statement headgears. Jackets, deftly embellished with nakshidabka and zardozi work are paired with straight-fit pants, even as the colour story evolves to feature an unusual cappuccino brown. Not a jewelled shade to cater to the Indian market, but a more recognisable hue of deep coffee that works across skin tones. Architectural ruffles

and hoods change shape and design with the introduction of heat-pressed pleats, sequins and myriad placements—some covering the face entirely—adding a dramatic touch to the pieces. 

There is newness when it comes to the simplicity of some looks, especially in the ivory ruffled trains and the use of fine glass and bugle bead embroideries. However, many of the pieces hark back to his debut Haute Couture collection, ‘Shunya’ showcased in January this year. Snakeskin-style, nude dresses, blouses that feature cording and sweet heart neckline gowns with brush-like strokes of crystals bring in a sense of déjà vu.

In this case, however, the design recall is apt. With only two seasons in, Gupta brings about interventions in styles that have proven to be a hit last season—headlining magazine editorials and covers, A-list events and coveted red carpets. With a global audience, the Gaurav Gupta universe is slowly being populated with new go-to styles, so sticking to a vocabulary that switches the tenor by season is an intelligent move

The New Fantasy of India

If the name of the collection intrigues you, the meaning will make you delve deeper into Gupta’s design imaginarium. In his collection note, Gupta explains the idea of ‘Hiranyagarbha’. A concept borrowed from the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, where Hiranya translates to golden, and garbha, to womb. “All of creation is thought to have emerged from this primal golden womb through which everything and therefore nothing, arose,” the note reads. As an idea, it is essentially Indian, delving into philosophies and age-old knowledge. It makes Gupta’s work stand out. A runway score by musicians Groovio (Gaurav Raina) and Curtain Blue (Abhishek Bhatia) that concludes with konnakol, the performance of percussion syllables in Carnatic music by singer Pavithra Chari for the Paris audience, cements the theme of ‘India now’.

For designer Rahul Mishra, the only other Indian designer to showcase at the event this season (and a Paris Couture regular), the country thrives in its artisanal heft, as layered embroideries bring alive the story of his craftspeople. However, Gupta’s craft straddles the line between fantasy and futuristic. When The Voice of Fashion interviewed him for its video series, ‘Questions No One Asks’ earlier this year, Gupta explained how his India inspiration is far from literal. “I like to live in the abstract and in the surreal. It’s a constant fantasy zone. And I like to be truthful to that—so I see India foremost as a beautiful concept.” A statement that drives the idea of ‘Hiranyagarbha’ home.