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Using wool as his canvas and Dutch painters as inspiration, Nachiket Barve brings his latest to the city

WOOL can be cool in summer as designers and previous winners Rahul Mishra and Suket Dhir have proved in the past, at the International Woolmark Prize. Mumbai designer Nachiket Barve continues the story. Collaborating with the Australian wool behemoth to showcase merino wool’s trans-seasonal capablities, he is among the finalists for the big International Woolmark Prize in January 2017. “It’s a big deal,” agrees the pragmatic Barve, about winning the regional India-Middle East round. Known to champion longevity in design, he says, “I like to be clear and precise, and this collection, Tulipmania, has a graphic boldness to it.”
A Bollywood favourite for years, with everyone from the Bachchan family to fashion forward star Sonam Kapoor singing his praises, Barve easily meets multiple requirements. Tulipmania features asymmetric drapes, fit and flare dresses and glamorous blouses with cutaway sleeves. “We can do up to 4XL or 5XL sizes,’’ he says, modestly.
Taking a breather from the endless rounds of Ganesh Chaturthi events his city is famous for, Barve explains why he decided to turn to 17th century Dutch masters Rembrandt and Ambrosius Bosschaert for this collection. “I was looking through the still-life paintings by these artists and decided to use the tulip as a metaphor, from a period when a single tulip bulb cost as much as a house in Amsterdam. The phenomenon was called Tulip Mania and it inevitably crashed.”
The collection, he chuckles, is a tongue-in-cheek reference to how ‘it’ bags or shoes become “garbage” 10 months after they are trending. At Evoluzione this weekend, Barve will be catering to brides, regular clients, even little girls for bespoke lehengas! His brand of ‘discreet luxury’ celebrates history and context, but thumbs its nose at logos and in-your-face fashion. Earlier collections like Chiaroscuro and Maia (channeling the fierce warrior woman) follow the same cues, with some of his “wearable art” featuring over 1,200 hours of handwork. “My flowers, be it the tulip, ottoman carnations or desert thistle, aren’t cutesy,” he says with emphasis, adding that “the best inspirations come from places you have never been to”.

Getting up close
The garments feature applique with handcut merino wool felt, zardosi and thread embroidery, some of the work resembling pointillist paintings (painting with dots). “My tulips have an element of cross-stitch to it,” he shares. They come in jewel tones like deep lapiz lazuli and merlot red.

The designer will be at Evoluzione on September 15. Collection from `11,000 to `20,000 and bespoke on request.
Details: 28333627

— Rosella Stephen

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