WHEN PLAS­TIC IS FAN­TAS­TIC

Amit Ag­gar­wal cre­ates fash­ion with in­dus­trial waste and doesn’t want to over­look mod­ern ad­vance­ment

India Today - - PROFILE - By CHINKI SINHA

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.

Early In­flu­ences

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

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