Aspects of Kolkata’s development are all set to adorn designer clothing. From the vibrant look of the city to the Ganga riverside to the green dividers, or a line or two from the chief minister’s poems, they would soon find a place on clothes. And clothes not for any high-end fashion show, but for day-to-day wear. In fact, this project is going to be launched in front of the Academy of Fine Arts, on March 31.
When innovative election campaigns are taking Kolkata by storm, internationally acclaimed fashion designer Nandan Das has also decided to join the campaign trail, and that too, of none other than that of the chief minister of West Bengal. Fabric painting and threadwork on traditional Bengali wear comprise his style statement. The developmental work undertaken by Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and the West Bengal government’s answers to criticisms figure prominently in Das’s creations, in the form of slogans. Kurtas screen-printed in bright colours, showing the developmental activities in the city, along with lines from the chief minister’s favourite poems, are set to be released. On March 31, a few hundred people would walk wearing Nandan’s creations. According to Nandan Das, “It is commonly understood that fashion designing is for the ‘elite’. But I believe that I have a role to play in the daily political and social issues, and hence this initiative.”
Without thinking much about financial considerations, Das has plunged headlong into this initiative to support the government through his designer clothes. He has also expressed a wish to design kurtas for candidates fighting the municipal elections, which they can wear during their campaigns.
Nandan’s interest in fashion designing began in 1999, around the time he started taking an active part in student politics as a student of City College on Amherst Street. Mamata Banerjee’s determination and relentless fight, along with her combative personality, overwhelmed the 19-year-old youth.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. The former student of one of Europe’s premier fashion schools has created a niche for himself in the couture scenes of Greece and Cyprus. He has been featured in a premier Russian fashion magazine. After returning to India, he has created a high-profile clientele for his brand of fashion, with well-known Bollywood actresses Celina Jaitley and Koena Mitra among his many admirers. The firebrand street fighter of his student days is now the chief minister of West Bengal, having blazed a trail of success through the agitations of Singur and Nandigram.
The fond memories of his college days has brought Das back to Bengal. The chief minister’s agenda of development, that has enabled the state to take long strides of success, has spurred him to give back to the state in his own way. Nandan Das hopes that his innovative designer kurtas, featuring various aspects of the state’s development, will not only become the winning jersey in the field of electoral politics, but will start a new trend as well, wherein fashion adds colour to the rigmarole of sweat and tears that fighting elections is.
Lead image: Artcraftetc