More than two decades in fashion and Varun Bahl’s retail network stretches to over 20 outlets, including his three flagship stores – two in Delhi and one in Mumbai. His work marries the beauty of heritage Indian handcrafted embroideries with a modern colour sensibility.
His clothes range from traditional saris and lehenga ensembles to contemporary separates like trousers, tunics, jackets, and dresses and the designer is known for the lightness of his fabrics. Owing to his love for floral motifs that he explores in each of his collections, he is labelled as the ‘couturier of flowers’.
The designer derives inspiration from the Art Nouveau period and blends that with his innovative design aesthetics to create a series of vintage floral stories. He prefers playing around the lines for romanticism, Victorian textures and extravagant embroideries. Regency classicism has been one of the important aspects of his design as from that the forms and motifs have been derived keeping in mind ancient Greece and Rome. He has dressed celebrities like Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Kangana Ranaut, Parineeti Chopra, Bipasha Basu, Huma Qureshi, Kajol, Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachchan, and so on.
This love for flowers continues in his latest Spring/Summer 2023 collection titled ‘Secret Garden’. Bahl has derived inspiration from the summer sun, the warmth of summer and the joy of spring, the burst of colour, the vibrance of nature, the reds from roses, hot pink hibiscus and delicate pastels of blooming daisies. The collection features bridal lehengas, breezy styles, and playful silhouettes that complement the season. The ensembles are adorned with delightful summer blossom-inspired corsages, and elements like seashells, and feathers to bring forth the presence of nature as an inspiration.
Daytime styles include ivory embroidery on shades of peaches where natural pieces like seashells come into play. The collection also features unique two tones in patchwork, with ‘summer bright’ which has pastel shades of lehengas, yellow to bring in the summer sun, and peach shades to add a sense of freshness. Bridal tones, red, and hot pinks with traditional zardozi embroidery have also been incorporated. He says the bold floral motifs are a refreshing reminder of a season where everything flourishes and that each element is handcrafted, from intricate florets to vivid blossoms.
Excerpts from the interview:
How is your collection different from your other floral collections?
'Secret Garden' gives a whole new dimension to my statement embroideries. In this collection, I have used my exotic floral artworks in form of appliqué work and 3-dimensional elements and corsages combined with delicate silk thread work.
What colours are likely to dominate this wedding season and what colours have you worked with in the latest collection?
Brides are more into experimenting with newer colour combinations instead of traditional colours. So, among bursts of colours with shades of red and berry pink, Secret Garden also features pastel colours such as mint greens, lemon yellow and ochre teals which I believe would be at the forefront for this summer wedding season.
Sustainable patchwork is your staple, what does it entail
My statement upcycled multi-patchwork plays on the idea of sustainability because I believe that’s definitely the future of the fashion industry. My Spring Summer’23 collection also features unique two-toned patchwork embroideries, with bright hues of yellow to bring in the summer sun, as well as shades of pink to add a sense of freshness.
What next collection are you working on, and what’s the inspiration?
The next collection that I am currently working on is the Winter Couture’23. We are experimenting with a diverse range of fabrics and newer dramatic silhouettes along with our classics.
India has seen a number of fusion saree brands come up. Since you too have showcased saree collections in the past, do you think you would like to do a saree-only collection unique to your sensibilities?
Definitely, going forward in the current season, I would artfully incorporate my signature drapes in saris which would also include modern and contemporary silhouettes.
Does your latest also include men’s wear, if yes, what has it been designed keeping in mind?
Yes, we are including menswear. It is an extension of our womenswear floral design aesthetics reflecting the same vivid language.