Rohit Bal is a designer one would have to describe as quintessentially Indian, in both design as well as the execution of his shows. Although born in Kashmir, as a designer he is definitely a product of New Delhi, a place which has given birth to a succession of talent, each more intriguing than the last.
With a degree in History from St. Stephens College, it is the past which remains a source of inspiration for Bal, he’s developed a distinctive quality for reaching far back into the depths of history and creating modern beauty from it.
Made famous for his speciality of including Lotus and Peacock motifs into his designs, he is a designer who is steadfast in capturing the richness of Indian fashion, infusing art historical passion with contemporary design aesthetics.
Recently he proved his worth as a designer who can not only create gorgeous designs, but also put together a breathtaking show. At Will Fashion Week, Bal was one of the final designers to showcase his collection.
It’s not unusual to say, but the majority of shows which take place during the end of most fashion weeks are never anything exciting, but Rohit Bal well and truly broke with tradition.
The venue was Quli Khan’s Tomb at the Mehrauli Archaeological site in Delhi. For a designer known for a love of history, it was indeed the perfect setting. To begin, the soundtrack to the show was perfect, with live music performed by Shubha Mudgal.
The tone and theme of this setting was romance, heaps of it, along with ancient mystery, classical style and evocative luxury, with a set designed by Sumant Jayakrishnan. Everything here, down to the last detail, was about framing the collection in the best of Indian heritage and culture.
The show attracted a throng of guests, with the famed French shoe designer Christian Louboutin gracing the front row. It has to be said that Rohit Bal is one of few Indian designers to attract attention from his design contemporaries around the globe.
Bal’s collection is titled “Gulbagh” and the inspiration was Mughal opulence, not the city dwelling Mughal’s we usually think of though, the great warriors and statesman, but the Mughal’s at leisure, in their pleasure palaces, nestled in the valleys of Kashmir.
As per usual Bal’s design techniques mixed the age old with the contemporary, incorporating vegetable dyes and gold leaf for embellishments, and a range of fabrics like chanderi, fine mulmul, matka silk and velvet.
The collection was very distinctive in the fact that Bal incorporated a wealth of flora and fauna into his patterns, from roses and other delicate flowers, to tree leaves. The effect was truly mesmerising, as all the embellishments were brought forth in mesmerising colours such as reds, purples, cream, greens and blues.
With petite female models in prettily adorned lehengas with peplum blouses, embroidered jackets and saris, and princely male models (one of which was the king of machismo Arjun Rampal) doned in handsome achkans and churidars, the collection was a triumph.
Without hesitation, Rohit Bal deserved his rapturous standing ovation.
Photos courtesy of Rohit Bal and video courtesy of Vogue India