A historic hotel and its most famous guest serve as muses for Ron Dutta’s Summer Resort 2017 line
In the New Market Area of Kolkata, on Sudder Street sits The Fairlawn Hotel. Steeped in history, this hidden gem, with vintage interiors and a colonial vibe, is what forms the inspiration for Fatherland’s latest line. Designer and textile revivalist Ron Dutta, who set up the label back in 2014, reveals that it all happened by accident. “I had heard so much about this hotel so I wanted to visit it when I was in the city,” says Ron, who is currently based in Bengaluru. “When I stepped in, I was so awestruck that I knew I must use elements from this cosy hotel for my next collection,” he adds.
The Shashi Kapoor Room, which is also the name given to the line, was another major attraction for the designer, who idolises the actor. “This particular room at Fairlawn was where Mr Kapoor stayed on his visits to Kolkata,” explains Ron. So the capsule collection really is a mix of motifs from the hotel, the interiors of the Shashi Kapoor Room, the fashion sensibilities of the man himself, and also a few details from the sartorial leanings of his late wife, Jennifer. But why Shashi Kapoor, known for his simple white kurtas and matching trousers, we ask. “I just love his simplicity and effortlessness. It’s counter fashion, which is something I admire, despite being a designer. I even interviewed the owner, Mrs Fowler, and Mr Kapoor’s daughter, Sanjana, about his younger days, to help me delve deeper into his character,” he answers.
The colour palette is largely white with pops of bright green (or ‘auto rickshaw’ green in Ron’s words), that are a distinct feature of Fairlawn’s interiors. A handwritten letter of gratitude from one of their guests, French author Dominique Lapierre, to the owners (a British family) is another design element that adds depth to the line-up of garments. “The letter has been screen-printed onto fabric, which has then been crafted into blouses, saris, shirts and kurtas,” shares the designer.
The vibe Ron is going for is easy, laidback and nostalgic. The collection sees lightweight mulmul cotton take on various forms, from Sway 12 — an elaborate ghaghra (taking style cues from Jennifer) made with 12 metres of fabric to Lapierre Soul — a simple double-layered kurta (inspired by the ones worn by Shashi Kapoor) with the inner layer bearing the typography of the author’s letter. Details such as semi-detached pockets, shimmer and hints of powder blue add to the appeal. “These elements I drew from his films, which were characterised by vibrant colours and lots of sparkle. But at the same time, I’ve stayed true to what Fatherland is — simple, elegant and low key.”
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— Rashmi Rajagopal Lobo