That's a rather sweet family pic clicked by my daughter Arundhati, with Aditya, my son, taken at one of the most glamourous parties ever hosted in Mumbai.
The Boys launched their lush, extravagant 10 kilo tome at what qualifies as the MOST lavish book launch in India... and possibly, the world! As the weight of their combined genius was weighing me down ( my Abu-Sandeep saree must have weighed 7 kilos, minimum), I sensibly decided not to move from my seat. The beautifully designed book with its deliciously homo-erotic images of nearly nanga British male dancers , is absolutely exquisite. Yes, there are several gorgeous women featured in it , too. Alas, they don't stand a chance! The men are just tooooo beautiful. But it was only after carefully going through the monumental tribute celebrating 25 years of Abu-Sandeep, that I realised just how important their contribution has been in the still far-from-mature fashion industry in India.
The long evening at Antilia, started well.... and got progressively better. Nita Ambani, along with Amitabh Bachchan, were the knock out show stoppers.The fashion show featured some of our veteran models like Anna Bredmeyer and Noynika Chatterjee - both, class acts. But oh.... it was the divine, heady music that completely captivated me. I asked The Boys for it ... and voila! I now have it. It's a Sony Music CD, Classic Bollywood,Shaken not Stirred. By the Bartender. What a medley,,,, what a remix! Seductive all the way.... especially, the dreamy version of Khoya, Khoya Chand and Babuji Dheere Chalna. How clever of The Boys to pick silky nostalgia for their immortal garments. An inspired stroke of genius.
This is what I wrote for their book....
Simply put: ‘The Boys’ are the best. There is a rare eloquence in all that they create, which is rare and unique. I use the word ‘eloquence’ and not ‘elegance’. Several designers in Indiacreate elegant garments. But only Abu-Sandeep manage to make their garments speak! Mind you, it really is the garments that do the talking… the wearer is merely the vehicle. When you are an Abu-Sandeep loyalist, you don’t have to say a thing! You merely float into the room for conversation to stop and the clothes to take over the rest of the communication! That’s how it has always been for this talented duo.
I can’t call myself an Abu-Sandeep loyalist, alas. But I do possess two outstanding examples of their work that bear ample testimony to their refined design sensibilities. Where does such inspiration come from? Can quiet, understated good taste be taught at a reputed international school of fashion? Does anyone really acquire such deep and abiding knowledge of craft skills going back centuries working in a Parisian atelier with a genius designer? Can a similar passion for all that is beautiful in the world be passed on by someone else? Impossible! Their aesthetic is distinctly their own. And one only has to recognize their immense talent for what it really is – a divine gift. ‘The Boys’ are blessed. Their art remains as ethereal and undiminished as it was when they began their fascinating voyage into the unknown, eccentric, egotistical world of fashion 25 years ago. How fortunate are they! And it is because of this precious gift that their label has seen the sort of appreciation only a few designers experience during their life time. The only reason why the two have been able to maintain their supremacy in the brittle and highly competitive world of couture, is because of their unshakeable self-belief and commitment to their art. It is indeed a sign of true confidence when senior designers like Abu- Sandeep refuse to go along with whatever is au courant or trendy, preferring to stick to their métier, and still succeed in holding their own, leaving panic attacks to lesser beings!
Their work is their meditation. It shows in the meticulous attention to detail that remains a hallmark of their label. Perfectionism always pays. Experts may spend hours deconstructing the Abu-Sandeep magic and analyzing their various ‘periods’ according to the cuts and craft skills they show- cased along the way. But the truth of the matter is more basic : Abu-Sandeep are timeless. I possess precisely two sarees designed by them, and I love both. I love them enough to be really, really possessive about them. Which means I deny access to my own daughters who otherwise have a free run of my wardrobe. I own some other equally wonderful sarees , but the Abu-Sandeeps remain special. One day, I shall pass them on to Anasuya Devi,my grand-daughter. Better still, maybe she will acquire her own sarees and kalidaar angarkhas painstakingly created by ‘The Boys’. Imagine that ! Three generations draped by Abu-Sandeep. Perhaps that really says it all!