Art News & Views

Creative Impulse

Agnimitra Paul is an energetic and creative person who has carved a niche in the world of fashion designing for the last couple of years. Her style is a real eye catcher and every time she astonishes the critics and the people with her vibrant creations. Sourya Deb talks to Agnimitra Paul about her yester years, her enthralling collections and her current life.

S.D - You used to stay in Asansol and spent your school days there. How difficult it was to work in Kolkata and make a mark in this city?

A.P - I think coming from Asansol was not the reason for the difficulties I faced during my first few years, even if I was from Kolkata then also I would have faced the same problems. No one from my family was in the fashion industry, I had to explore the avenues and in doing so I made mistakes and learnt from the mistakes.

S.D - What made you take up fashion designing, though you had your M.B.A from Jadavpur University?

A.P - It was not planned from my part to take up fashion designing, I was supposed to be a doctor but I could not get through the entrance test. At that point of time I joined the Birla Institute of Liberal Arts & Management Sciences which offered a part time course on fashion designing. I also worked in a renowned boutique at that time named ESPEE so that I could acquire the practical knowledge as well. I was the in house designer there. Then after finishing the course, I decided to be a designer only. My parents and my in-laws were very supportive at that time.

S.D - You launched your signature label INGA just after passing out from Birla Institute of Liberal Arts & Management Sciences, what was the initial response?

A.P - The response was good, at that time I used to get a salary of Rs.2500 and a commission of 7% on the sale of the clothes which I designed. So it would come around Rs.6500 and during the season time (end of July to January) I managed to get Rs. 10,000. With this entire money I used to make my collection which cost me Rs.7000 for making 5 outfits and complete one collection. A collection is a series of outfits having a common point. Then I used to supply it to ESPEE, sometimes two or three pieces got sold and the rest I sent to some other shops in Hyderabad or Chennai or some other places.

S.D - What was the first remarkable break that you got to get into the film industry?

A.P - The first major break that I got was from Sridevi. At that point of time I just went to Mumbai with my father to become a famous fashion designer like Manish Malhotra, at that time Manish was just coming up with Raja Hindustani & Rangeela. Sridevi ji gave me an appointment for 15 minutes, she spent one hour looking at my collection and she liked my creations very much. Then she asked me to design clothes for her. After that I was designing her clothes and suddenly one day she called me up to ask me whether I was interested in doing a costume design for Esha Deol for the film Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche. I was overwhelmed to get the offer and that was my first big break.

S.D - Your signature label defines western trends fused with exotic Indian touch, why is it so?

A.P - This is so because I think this is my fetus, I love to mix Indian embroidery, Indian colours, and sentiments to western cuts because it moves a lot. There is a market for very western outfits, a similar market for ethnic collections in India as well; but my genre of designing, which is fusion designing has got a market in the eastern and western parts. So I like this kind and I stick to it.

S.D - What is your source of inspiration for designing?

A.P -I take inspiration from anything. Once I went to Bhutan to spend the holidays there. I was very much inspired by the Bhutanese motives and I made a collection inspired by that along with a western touch in the Lakme Fashion Week in 2007. Inspiration can be drawn from anything like from my second son (a pug), crowded Kolkata streets or it can be anything.

S.D - According to you, what are the things that dominate your sense of designing?

A.P - I think colour is the most important thing in my designing. Other than that I love to work with cuts, but I'm still not very strong with it. I need to learn a lot of it and I'm learning. I also like to work with embroidery. These are the most important things for my designing.

S.D - How you are associated with art?

A.P - I'm not associated with arts directly, but I love seeing paintings, irrespective of the status of the artist. It may be a child artist, or it can be a reputed artist.

S.D - What is the driving force for your designing?

A.P - Music is the driving force for me. It sets the mood for my work, but I haven't come up with a collection inspired by music only. I love to hear music of all genres starting from Rashid Bhai's classical, Bollywood music, Rabindrasangeet or it can be anything. The kind of music also influences my choice of colours.

S.D - What is the profile of your clients?

A.P - My clients mainly belong to the upper middle class section, however sometimes people from middle class section also approach me to make a bridal collection but that is very rare. I want my collection to reach the interiors of India where people can afford to buy my designer clothes. I remember once a young girl from Shibpur (Howrah) came up to me with a very old issue of Sananda magazine where there was a picture of a skirt designed by me. She requested me to make a skirt just identical to it as she wanted to wear it on her birthday and she had a budget of Rs. 500. I was very moved by it & I made her that outfit although it was hard to stick to her budget. But I felt good because she could flaunt the dress to her friends and boast for it was an Agnimitra Paul creation.

S.D - How do the social issues like child labour, poverty, and political restlessness have its importance to you? Have you done anything or thought of doing anything constructive for the society?

A.P - These issues are very important to me and they affect me a lot as well. I love working for the society. I'm attached to an organisation called 'Pronam' which is a venture of the Kolkata Police. Arindam Sil & I are the joint conveners of this. We try to give security to the elderly citizens through this programme and we arrange picnics, watching movies for these lonely elderly people. I get immense pleasure from this. I always try to combine fashion with social service, like the NIB project I did where I designed clothes for a show and the fund which was raised went to the blind people. I was in Mumbai at that point of time where I was doing a charity show named The Black Lily and the NIB guys saw me there and wanted me to do a show of that sort. So I did that for them. I love doing these kinds of social works.

S.D - Do you have any plan of opening an INGA outlet in Kolkata and also in other metropolises?

A.P - Yes, I am going to open my store in Kolkata very soon. It will be on Hindustan Road. In future I have plans of opening stores in other parts of the subcontinent as well.




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