Gaurav Gupta: ‘We’re a conceptual fashion label, and people thought I was an alien.’



In the year I can’t imagine a fashionable person who wouldn’t want to be Gaurav Gupta in 2023. The talented young designer is making an impressive start to the year. Celebrities have worn it on every red carpet around the world – from the Academy Awards to the Grammy Awards. It made its debut at the most elite Paris Haute Couture week. And now he has renovated his Mumbai boutique into an architectural marvel.

It’s also gearing up to relaunch its fabulous ready-to-wear line at Neiman Marcus this summer, no less. Wow, I have to sit down.

Gaurav Gupta Couture_SS23_Secret of Beaches

“Something magical has been happening with us in the last two years. But it has been in use for some time. It took a lot of persistence, team building and hard work. And I have to say that I am lucky and grateful to have the right team members.” The 44-year-old humbly shares his credit for his success. It all started last year when American rapper Megan T wore Stallion to the Oscars. Then Mary J Blige for the Time 100 Gala, Maluma for the Latin Billboard Awards, Lizzo, Kylie Minogue, Luis Fonzi, Ashanti, Cardi B… the list is exhausting. Most of these, according to Gupta, in Los Angeles public relations agent Hema Bose. “She is not only a brand strategist and VIP wear specialist, but also a culture driver. She places you on the right celebrities, ensuring that the brand’s legacy is respected. All the celebrities we wear are change makers.”

Adriana Lima at Gaurav Gupta’s Vanity Fair Oscars Party

Gupta’s show at Paris Haute Couture Week was a fantastic debut and was widely covered by the international media. “I used to dream about it as a student at Central Saint Martins,” he laughs. « I mean, a few thousand designers apply and only 28 are chosen to show in the main calendar. It must be something. It was so fun, I felt like I was at home.

Home has always been a quandary for Gupta. In Paris, he worked with models, girls and trans from around the world. The stylist worked with Jean Paul Gaultier, the hairdresser was another famous name, everything was equally happy. “Naviki said he’s home.”

Jeremy Pope in Gaurav Gupta Couture at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2023

Poet and writer Navkirat Sodhi is also home to him. The two have been best friends since school, and have been together for over a decade now. They share a platonic relationship, but Gupta insists that he and Sodhi don’t believe in boxes or labels. “We don’t understand the concepts of marriage or sex, we have pure love and decided to be life partners. We are twin flames,” he explains.

Sodhi along with his brother Saurav and their parents hosted the launch of the Mumbai store. It’s peppered with movie stars, and the traffic is backed up far away. “The store is 6,000 square feet and has three floors. The business has also grown in the eight years since our folder store at Kala Goda opened. We were among the first labels in Kala Ghoda before it became the fashion and restaurant hub it is today. And we want to have a more unique space, not just a marketable fashion space,” he avers.

Maluma by Gaurav Gupta Couture for Latin Billboard

Designed by Delhi-based architect Vishal Dar, the all-white and skylight space is a tribute to Zero or Shunya, Gupta’s latest muse concept. “The pillars of our brand have been fantasy, surrealism, futuristic, and all of this culminates in Shunia or the concept of infinity. Conceptually, it’s like a bunch of Zeros flying through the air, landing on the building, and making a store. Dar is not just an architect but an artist,” says Gupta. Gaurav Gupta sells from five stores in India, two in New Delhi, and one each in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

Gupta’s approach is to deconstruct bridal wear – the mainstream of Indian fashion, so to speak. The shapes are like snow waves and rope curtains, each dress is a marvel of engineering in itself. His embroideries are as unusual as lightning flashes on the body. “Selling these was definitely a challenge. We’re a very conceptual brand, and India is a very commercial market. People thought I was a foreigner. I mean, everyone said it’s the future, but how do we make money now?” he smiles. Ruffled like a Grecian veil, and badass leather flower embroidery. New versions of sarees and saree gowns appeared. Brides, their mothers, mothers-in-law and other mixed beauties queued up for this new lustful style.

Shahid Kapoor at Gaurav Gupta for Zee Cine Awards

For a label launched in 2005, Gaurav Gupta is hardly ingenious. The sculptural dresses are very elegant, difficult to store and difficult to wear. But he continues to be a favorite of brides. “It was beautiful when we saw that we improved culture and created it through culture. Most weddings have two or three big events, while one or two are ours,” he smiles.

Gupta says the business is still family-owned, and that’s huge for a brand with so many major hits. “We’re comfortable financially, and most of what we do goes back into the business,” he explained. He opened a huge atelier in Noida, just outside of New Delhi, so the craftsmen and workers have a great place to call office, and are happy to come to work. About the network

Namrata Zakaria is an experienced author and editor, and chronicler of social and cultural trends. Her first book on late fashion designer Wendell Rodrigues Moda Goa Museum is to be published soon. Zakaria is particularly known for her insider knowledge on fashion, luxury and social entrepreneurship in India. Her writing has been credited with shaping opinions, debunking myths, making names, and sometimes breaking unconventional careers. Zakaria is also involved in coordinating philanthropic efforts in the areas of economic and environmental sustainability.

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Updated Date: Mar 19, 2023 06:15:17 IST


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