Ron Dutt’s new Summer Resort 2017 collection The Shashi Kapoor Room, in one word, is spectacular. No, wait… I need more words. Like..ethereal, sublime…and in the designer’s words “very hulka pulka” (in a beautiful way).
Earlier, he had translated a 1000-year—old sculpture into a kaftans, skirts, coats and saris in The Chain of Destruction collection. And this time around he’s turned the warmth and the magic of a landmark hotel, Fairlawn, into “light-hearted” garments in the collection The Shashi Kapoor Room.
And I also like it that the names of his collections are like apprentice haikus.
Fairlawn hotel is an integral part of Kolkata’s heritage, Ron’s hometown. It is an English run hotel steeped in history and located in the Anglo-Indian side of Kolkata. It belongs to the family of Jennifer Kapoor, wife of actor Shashi Kapoor (you can read about the Fairlawn hotel here in Sunny Escapes). Captivated by the history of the place, Ron went to stay in the not-so-posh but so-rich-in-memories hotel in September 2016. He was given Room No.17, the Shashi Kapoor room.
“This is where Shashi Kapoor and his family stayed and still stay whenever they come to Kolkata, in spite of Taj and Oberoi being just a few feet away,” Ron says. Room 17 is a stark room. It has kharkhari windows (Venetian blinds-window style of old Kolkata)
Ron’s The Shashi Kapoor Room collection from Fatherland has traces of the Fairlawn Hotel, as well as a hint of the Shashi Kapoor Room. But it is underplayed.
“The looks are more about drawing a slightly contemporary parallel of the past,” says Ron. And the mood is a boundless simplicity.
Ron did not visit the hotel with an idea of doing a collection. He went to photo-document the history of the place. The collection took root when he was in the hotel and especially when he saw a letter written by Dominique Lapierre who was another one of Fairlawn’s guests. “It epitomised the warmth of the place. I loved the handwriting, and I knew it could be translated into a garment,” Ron recalls.
As part of the creative process, Ron had interviewed Sanjana Kapoor, daughter of Shashi Kapoor (“to know more about Shashi Kapoor’s sensibilities or his counter-fashion simplicity”). And this is what she said about her parents’ fashion style. When you read it, you will realise the backstory of some of the design elements in Ron’s collection.
About Shashi Kapoor: “ My father always wore a white kurta, white trousers and Gandhi chappals from Khadi Bhandar on workdays, six days a week. Always! Yaseen Tailor’s at Warden Road would stitch his kurtas and trousers to match… In winter he’d drape a large shawl around his shoulders. And occasionally a Pakistani block print chader.”
(It seems, Shashi Kapoor knew the value-add of a uniform for a stress-free work day much before Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg)
Jennifer Kapoor: “My most treasured inheritance is my mother’s Banjaran Ghaghra… she had two identical ones (I don’t know why) each with about 12 ms of cloth on them…and her chunky jewellery most of it from her favourite Shop No 47 at Zaveri Bazaar at the Crawford Market area.
My (paternal) grandmother’s delicate gold bangles were a perpetual ornament on her right arm. She would get cheap kurtas (with 3/4th sleeve and side pockets) from Khadi Bhandari and dye them different earthy colours…She wore Joy Shoes chappals which I still wear to date.”
The Shashi Kapoor Room collection begins with a note of whiteness and green. White because of Shashi Kapoor’s style and green because Fairlawn is a green hotel – in the literal sense. “The walls are painted an autorickshaw green, a colour that I have never seen painted on any walls,” says Ron.
The collection is stark, paired with sparkle and with the hint of the 80s and 90s pop. The fabric used is mulmul cotton. The collection has seven looks. Shirts, kurtas, sarees, swaying skirts and so on. Three of the seven looks are unisex. It has self-prints. My favourite is the shirt with detached pockets with Dominique Lapierre’s letter as a self-print. It is a conversational piece. It is a garment with a story for the ages.
The collection is likely to expand. Ron says he’d like to add to it seasonally. “I’d love to do kaftans and slouchy pieces,” he says.
Imagine wearing a fun story from the past! That’s what makes fashion so appealing.
You can also read about Ron’s The Chain Of Destruction