20 years after launching his iconic brand, Indian fashion designer Gaurav Gupta made his much-awaited debut at Paris Haute Couture Week on Thursday.
The prestigious event’s recognition of Gupta reflects the growing international status of the couturier, who has long been favored by his Bollywood clientele. The designer’s profile has risen this past year, with his sculptural creations worn by international A-list stars including Cardi B, Lizo and Kylie Minogue.
At last year’s Oscars, rapper Megan T. Stallion wore a satin-blue, body-hugging dress custom-designed by Gupta that featured a stunning train that flowed like delicate waves. He said the media coverage he created earlier this week at a temporary showroom near Paris’ Champs-Élysées was “very beautiful.”
The designer added, “It inspired us and gave us the confidence that we are ready to go global as an Indian couture brand.
Megan T. Stallion will attend the 2022 Oscars. “Meghan, Cardi B, Lizo, Maluma – they all represent a different culture and tradition. So for me, I collaborate with culturalists,” said Gupta. Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images/File.
Haute Couture Week is an annual event where unique fashions – clothes handcrafted with passion and sold at eye-watering prices – are sent down the runways in front of a star-studded audience. Gupta recalled being on a plane and “about to take off” when he heard the brand had been selected to showcase at the event.
“It was very dramatic,” he said. “I was alone in the plane and for the next two hours I was looking out and crying. We were just this couturier, and this story is happening before my eyes. This dream has been 25 years in the making – ever since I started working in fashion.”
After graduating from London’s St Martins College of Art and Design, Gupta founded the label in 2005. His brother Sarabh joined the operation earlier. They opened five boutiques in New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Hyderabad and grew the business together by dressing Bollywood stars, Indian socialites and brides.
Initially, Gupta’s high-concept collections subverted what was being sold in the Indian market at the time and entered the more affluent palettes. It took some time to turn his runway show into commercial sales.
Model Coco Rocha and designer Gaurav Gupta pose on stage before the show on January 26, 2023 in Paris, France. Credit: Christy Sparrow/Getty Images
“Being a concept-driven brand in a very traditional market has not been very easy. Over the years, I’ve found a balance in how to create wearable concepts,” he said.
Gupta and his team have been working on the approach to Paris Couture for the past six months, from developing concepts and designs to dyeing and quilting fabrics. The label was preparing for a buyer tour of its Paris showroom, where the eveningwear collection currently sold through Moda Operandi is on display. American retailer Neiman Marcus is set to offer the brand’s designs, and Gupta relishes the challenge of expanding his presence in the West.
“America is big and we are stacked with the best players in the market,” Gupta said. “It’s a good development to have celebrity collaborations – cultural collaborations, as I like to call them – and (in parallel) our agents conduct sales. It’s a 360-degree plan.”
For the label’s debut collection at Haute Couture Week, the idea of ”shunya”, the Sanskrit word for zero, was the starting point.
“When zero was discovered … the world expanded into infinity. Time was no longer linear,” said Gupta, whose explorations of space and time inspired the collection.
Actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan wears a Gaurav Gupta creation at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2022 in Cannes, France. Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images/File.
In the year Models walk the runway during the Gaurav Gupta Haute Couture Spring Winter 2023 show in Paris, France on January 26, 2023. Credit: Christy Sparrow/Getty Images
Thursday’s runway show kicked off with a plethora of images in emotional textures. Several looks featured swan-like wings curled around the models’ shoulders and hips before they took to the floor. The collections are made using Indian hand-wrapped and hand-woven tissue fabrics, which are sculpted and embellished with crystals using the label’s embroidery techniques, adding a touch of elegance to each dress.
Indigo, electric-blue pieces followed. Strong statements in their own right, each look is styled head-to-toe in the same color and is paired with ankle boots that seem to fit the models like a second skin.
A model walks the runway during the Gaurav Gupta Haute Couture Spring Winter 2023 show on January 26, 2023 in Paris, France. Credit: Vittorio Zunino Cello/Getty Images
Then came the parade of dresses that looked like they were naked. Intricate black embellishments are strategically placed over skin-colored tulle. They follow the pop color with silver, black and neon yellow dresses. A series of black and gold creations concluded the show.
“When people see my collections, they say, ‘Your clothes are very beautiful but not very Indian,’ which is not true,” says Gupta.
“There is a sense of fluid form, sophistication, techniques and arts – all this is Indian. I want to challenge the perception of the words “India” or “India”.
Top Image Caption: Models walk the Gaurav Gupta runway on January 26, 2023 in Paris, France.