‘What better way to contribute to this amazing cause than with fashion’: Varun Bahl on draping cancer survivors for a show – The Indian Express
Pukhraj Singh, a quinquagenarian, was diagnosed with groin cancer earlier this year — a battle that took him almost seven months of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to win. But, despite the physical, mental, and emotional trauma, Singh said the “fear of disease did not bother me”, because not only was he at ease with himself but “had thousands of people praying for me.”
Saluting this unwavering spirit of cancer survivors, the Festival of Hope Foundation organised a fashion show — an annual event conceptualised by Shalini Vig — in collaboration with designer Varun Bahl as part of which Singh sashayed down the ramp looking dapper in a floral embroidered jacket by the designer. Admitting to being a “little hesitant” to wear the elaborate jacket, Singh radiated with confidence when he walked the ramp wearing the exquisite creation. “It brought a lot of confidence in me. I just loved the whole experience of walking on the ramp wearing that beautiful jacket,” he told indianexpress.com.
Pukhraj Singh. (Credit: PR Handout)
Much like Singh, Kavita Bagga, director Kara Organics Pvt Ltd, who was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma (thyroid cancer) in September last year and underwent thyroidectomy (removal of the thyroid) followed by a radioactive iodine treatment to remove any residual cancer cells — looked lovely in a red satin gown. “Cancer teaches you the value of each breathing moment which strangely we tend to forget or take for granted even know death is inevitable,” she said.
Talking about his fighter muses, Varun said, “I’ve always tried to find different ways of giving back to society, and that’s always been the main reason why I continue to do what I do, and what better way to contribute to their amazing cause than with fashion.” In a similar vein, the designer talked about draping the survivors, his collection, upcoming bridal wear trends, and more in this exclusive email interview with indianexpress.com. Edited excerpts below:
Kavita Bagga. (Credit: PR Handout)
Tell us about the special collection.
This show was very special to me as I showcased a curated selection of pieces from both, my latest Pret Collection as well as my latest couture collection, New Leaf. All these pieces are very close to me and were handpicked for the ‘Leaders of Hope’, who walked the show. I’m so glad to have been able to contribute to this wonderful cause and event by doing my part for the show. Three cancer warriors walked the ramp. There’s absolutely no difference in their look from others.
Tell us about your showstopper creation.
Sanjana Sanghi wore a delicate and intricately embellished blouse and upcycled patchwork lehenga from ‘New Leaf’. This collection has been very close to me, as with this collection, I aimed to style couture in a newer way, heading towards the direction of catering to the younger generations, and hence, reinventing the idea of couture completely, which I believe is definitely the need of the hour.
What is more important when you showcase a collection for the audience — brand values, concept, or is it about pure wearability?
I think when it comes to designing a couture or even a pret collection, each and every piece should comprise all three. It should be a reflection of your brand values, every piece should have a concept, a story, and of course, the piece in itself should be wearable, and a valuable addition to one’s wardrobe.
How would you describe your experience of working with B-Town?
It’s always a great experience to style celebrities as they come to be style icons on the silver screen. It’s a validating feeling as a designer to see them don our couture ensembles and incorporate them into their daily lifestyle.
How does your bridal ensemble combine tradition with contemporary style?
When it comes to styling the Varun Bahl bride, I feel contemporary quirkiness and traditional elegance go hand in hand. I like to play around with bright eccentric colours with heavy work on them, and I want my brides to breathe, eat and sleep in my couture. For me, comfort is style and style is comfort. Varun Bahl brides are about being contemporary in a traditional kind of way. My brides are gen z and cool, which is exactly what I stand for.
How different is it to design for women and men?
I think it used to be different earlier, but now that the grooms are also looking for pieces that are more intricate, delicate, and contemporary with a hint of tradition, the difference has become less and less.
Your views on the evolution of bridalwear in India.
Modern brides want a fusion between contemporary and traditional now. They want to strike a balance between the two, and yes there are so many options for brides nowadays that they don’t even look at the conventional colors and silhouettes in today’s time. Earlier, it was just a classic red lehenga for the bride and a sherwani for the groom. Now brides go for different styles, such as an unconventional yet comfortable pantsuit and even different colors, and I’m all for it.
As the wedding season is approaching, what bridal trends do you foresee?
I think ivories, blacks, sage green, and blushing pinks are refreshing and ideal for the upcoming wedding season, no matter where you are in the world. I would suggest going for high necks and contemporary lehengas, rather than going for the conventional styles.
Share style tips for to-be brides for the perfect wedding look.
I think all brides should be able to enjoy their wedding as much as their guests and that is why I truly believe in transformative attire. I also believe in going for something comfortable for the wedding so that there has to be no transformation.
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