For Gaurav Gupta, life is a perpetual voyage through the cosmos. Galactic influences have long underpinned his work—comet-inspired motifs and cosmic hues conjure celestial goddesses for the modern age. And at a time when the pandemic has halted life as we know it, the couturier is choosing to live vicariously through his creations for his couture 2021/22 lineup, titled ‘Universal Love’. A shower of stars here, a comet flying through an embroidery stroke there… together, they emulate the heady rush of racing through space at a meteoric speed.
Even as the events of the past year have left us homebound, Gupta has never felt this free before. Unshackled by the need to be commercially successful, he acknowledges that he is now free to follow his heart. “The pandemic has made me believe in my own originality. The fact that I don’t have to follow trends means that I can follow my love for art more,” he observes. It comes as little surprise, then, that he likens every creation to a painting that he can visit and revisit every year, which has translated into some of his best work. “There are these magical moments that happen in the studio when we are wowed by chancing upon a new technique or coming up with a new shape altogether. Creating a sculptural piece of art is a process, and every garment has its own story,” he says.
Through his new collection, Gupta takes us into his world—a cinematic expanse of infinity and space. Expect conceptual lehengas embellished by shaded glass in the edgy hues of gunmetal and hybrid gowns with multi-layered skirts and rainshower embroidery. A showstopper violet gown with fan-like pleating is sure to become a favourite with the sartorially savvy. The colour palette pays a nod to the collection’s celestial ethos with hues that range from cosmic grey and asteroid pink to neptune blue and gilded gold. For the man, he offers striking monochromes and stately teals, served against the backdrop of velvet tuxedos and flared trousers.
For those looking to step into his world, the designer has chosen to unveil the new collection with a couture film shot at the Taj Falaknuma, seeped in history and heritage. “The name ‘falaknuma’ translates into ‘mirror of the sky’. Much like our brand, Taj Falaknuma has different global influences coming together to create one fantasy space together. The resonance with our ethos is amazing, but we wanted to go one step further and add a universal magic to it,” he says. Look closer and you’ll find that underneath its starry exterior, the film is driven by the emotion of love—in all its definitions and identities across a broad spectrum of gender fluidity and sexualities.
Despite the pandemic posing a question mark over the future of the industry, Gupta believes that the larger fashion mood is that of self-discovery. “With people now looking at intimate affairs and conscious weddings of one hundred people, families still want to experience the magic. In fact, because their budgets are now more aligned towards themselves, they want to have that extravagant moment for themselves through couture and jewellery,” he explains.
So, what can we expect from the wedding season ahead? “I see unusual colours being explored as people are exploring newer things right now. However, even the larger-than-life statements are being made with a sustainable heart,” he predicts. The change is further reflected in the mindset of the modern bride who is looking to be more original and individualistic, he believes. “She is looking to create unusual, new trends and make her own statement in her own language. I would implore her to go out and try more new and authentic things because at the end of the day, it is her wedding for her to celebrate,” he concludes.