WHEN PLASTIC IS FANTASTIC
Amit Aggarwal creates fashion with industrial waste and doesn’t want to overlook modern advancement
Iwas the promise of immortality by a parrot that turned an old woman, on the verge of ending her life by eating the forbidden fruit, into a youthful beauty. This childhood story resonated with 36-yearold designer Amit Aggarwal. So much so that he began making ageless garments. As a child, Aggarwal had visualised this story which was narrated to him by his teacher, a young woman. She always carried story books with her and the two had struck a bargain; an hour of dedicated problem-solving on his part and a story on hers. Aggarwal remembers the parrot’s journey, the majestic king, and the veiled queen with her mane that flowed like a waterfall. He was eight years old then, living in Goregaon, Mumbai.
Perhaps it was this story that led him to use industrial waste. Today, this forms the basis of Aggarwal’s creations. He is in fact trying to immortalise design, buck trends and interpret modern industrial history. How else can one understand or decipher his use of leftover negative sheets of bindi, fused with Chanderi and other textiles, to make garments. Taking the dot as inspiration, and a metaphor for the absolute, his new label AM.IT, launched in 2014, is a ready-to-wear line, where he has fused traditional weaves like ikat and printing techniques using industrial waste.
Born to a middle class family, Aggrawal’s father was an engineer. He visited his father’s factory as a child and the sparks that flew while the workers welded metals led him to believe in magic realism. These lines and structures, metals, sparks and the fluidity were to inspire his work.
When he moved to Delhi he was 18. He spent much of his time visiting exhibitions and exploring artworks. He applied to study in NIFT, Delhi, but made the cut only on his second attempt. Aggarwal went on to become one of the brightest students of the institute, winning five awards. He went to Japan on an exchange programme and then to Italy on a backpacking tour. The travel helped him understand cultures and new worlds.
For 15 years, Aggarwal worked with international designers who showed at Paris. “Pattern-making was mathematical. What I made during my internship with a Russian designer was featured on the opening page of Style.com in Paris. I was in my early twenties then,” he says.
Garments of the Future
The couture garments that hang at his studio in Lado Sarai in Delhi are like a compressed fantasia. There are voluminous gowns that are twisted in ways that are futuristic. It is here that you see the inspiration merge into shapes and forms that only the daring would own. Nothing is spared. Not even the polythene bags that he traded with shops in Hauz Khas in return for brown paper bags. He has used them to make plastic flowers and upcycled Chinese towels to make a skirt that he calls his bioscope skirt. This piece of creativity has squares cut into a plastic sheet and if you look through them, the lining has superheroes. It brings you a world where the imagination can be viewed through a keyhole..
As a designer, he stays away from trends, processes and mood boards on the whole. The only rule he follows is the basic one taught in design school—clothes are protection, attraction (sex) and a status symbol. He says, “For me, fashion is a choice, an extension of self and it is all about how you grew up and how you see the world at its crossroads. We must move forward.”
TIMELESS APPEAL Recycled leather cord moulded dress