The Kashmiri artist in Rohit Bal marries traditional motifs with rich fabrics and crafts textiles with a sensibility, which is too good to be true. Over the last 25 years, he’s distinguished himself as a pioneer in mens and womens wear, a marketing maven and a successful entrepreneur who’s the life of the social circuit. Behind Rohit Bal’s label and entrepreneur lies a canny, original mind. Shweta Bhatia finds out more
Do you remember the first ever outfit you designed?
Yes, it was an ivory mulmul crinkled Jalabia was the first outfit I had made, it had 15 meters of ghera and that’s what we make till today. This was the first distinct collection I did. Before that I had done a few tye dye organza coats but the jalabias are what I remember fondly as my first collection for women.
Tell us more about your latest collection?
Husn-e-taai’raat is a tribute to the beauty of wildlife, birds and flowers that found expression in the Indian decorative arts and flow through the collection. It is a tribute to the incredible artisans and craftsmen of my country. As I have always wondered what is it about art & fashion that makes it so intimidating, elusive & thought provoking, Rodin explains it quite simply “the main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.” I feel all these emotions, I breathe and consume all these emotions. This collection represents all my thoughts on art and how it is inexplicable.
How have your designs evolved over the years?
I only compete with myself and try to do better than what I did last time. The constant search for excellence, rediscovering and redefining what I do and also be able to reinvent everything I do, since I do classic clothing.
Who has been your muse?
It is not possible to name one muse I have had my through the years.
We love the drama you put into the shows when exhibiting your new collection. What inspires you to do that?
I think fashion is all about beautiful clothes, beautiful setting, beautiful ambience and also lots of drama. I think when you are doing a show, people want to get away from their everyday life and see something unexpected, dramatic. I don’t think people enjoy soemthing regular, expected. Drama creates much more oomph and keeps the audience engaged. The drama that I create is for people to remember, to create a wonderful memory. It’s about moving people. I think fashion shows should have an impact on somebody’s mind and it’s not just about showing clothes, they should leave a lasting impression on people’s minds.
With your love for the grandeur, have you ever considered directing a film?
Making a film takes really long time and I think I am too lazy to do that. A very close friend of mine just released his film and it took him 2-1/2 to 3 years to put it together. I know the problems and challenges that he faced and he is much younger than I am so I think I would love to go and see the film but I don’t think I would want to a direct a film.
You have showed at so many fashion weeks, in India and abroad, which was the one most special to you?
I had done shows in most cities where people normally show like New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, London.. almost any city you can think of. For me, the most relevant one was the first show I did in Paris, the most important fashion people were there to attend the show and it got incredible appreciation.That was the one that really mattered to me and that is the one I always remember in terms of satisfaction.
Are you a social media person?
Not at all, I am not into social media at all. I have people who do it for me but personally I might post one photograph on instagram only if I think its relevant, something that people might enjoy. I am very active on Facebook but its only work wise I am not chatting on Facebook. I am on twitter but I don’t really tweet so I wouldn’t call myself a social media person.
With everything going great in the world of fashion, how did you get into food? When did you decide to open Veda?
It’s actually kind of an extension to what I do, when I have to say I design it’s not just designing clothes. It’s not just about fashion. It came along when my partner asked me for a collaboration for a restaurant and it went into tie-ups and Veda (his restaurant) came about. I actually did not get into the food aspect of it, I have done the ambience and interiors of it so when I am collaborating with any hotels or restaurants it’s for the décor part of it.
Any plans of opening Veda in Dubai?
My partner did have plans of opening Veda in Dubai but right now I think we will open more in India but later maybe he might plan to open in Dubai. In that case, I think we might find someone to collaborate with some one local, I would be very happy to see that.
What’s your advice for the bride on her big day?
Don’t over do it. Be your own person. A wedding doesn’t necessitate overdoing the bling just because everyone else is. It’s your big day, make yourself happy.
Your favourite perfume?
Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior
One item you’ve had in your wardrobe forever?
I suppose like everyone has a pair of blue jeans that’s always in my wardrobe.
The first luxury brand that you ever bought?
Actually the one that’s relevant to me is this watch that I bought in 1983 when I was very very young and I wear it even now. It’s by Breitling, my favourite watch it was very very expensive at that time and I bought it with my own money.
Three must haves for every man –
Dignity, Self Respect and Sex Appeal.