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Lounge Review | Neel Sutra, Gurgaon

LiveMint logoLiveMint 13-06-2014 Shefalee Vasudev

There are at least three reasons to visit Neel Sutra, the new fashion store at The Oberoi, Gurgaon, Haryana. The most salient is the space itself. It is a 2,200 sq. ft store with artsy décor, wood-panelled walls and sloped ceiling in graded earthy hues, and an art installation created from blue threads.

Two, carefully curated from only a handful of designers, the clothes, both menswear and womenswear, represent au courant Indian fashion without allowing either its contemporary facets to dominate the selection or ethnic features to make its appeal predictable. Three, it has a Sari Room where handloom saris—Kanjeevarams, Patolas, Uppadas, Banarasis, Chanderis and Chettinads, among others—sourced from regional sari cooperatives and master weavers are stocked alongside Ikats by Abraham & Thakore, multi-technique weaves by Gaurav Jai Gupta and Muga silks by Deepika Govind.

Co-curated by Sunil Sethi, president of the Fashion Design Council of India, and Bangalore-based designer Deepika Govind, Neel Sutra (blue thread), which opened sales a few months before its formal launch last month, is tastefully distinct from retail destinations where colour, embellishment or printed flamboyance are the loudest synonyms of local fashion. Sethi, who has chosen the menswear in the store, says he invited two artists to create the blue-threaded installation to keep an art-fashion coexistence throbbing. Govind, who sourced the textile saris, pointed to pieces that wouldn’t be easy to come by even in lauded sari stores.

The good stuff

We loved the curating principle—designers like Rahul Mishra, Aneeth Arora, Pankaj & Nidhi, Anju Modi, Rohit Bal, Arjun Saluja, Urvashi Kaur, Abraham & Thakore are displayed by colour, from indigo, beige, peach red to white, instead of one designer per rack or “Indian” versus “Western” segregations. The finely pin-tucked fabric bags by designer Tanira Sethi are nice too.

The not-so-good

Brick-red tags with the store name and price include this half-sentence: “celebrating the beauty of human workmanship”. “Human workmanship” has been behind beautiful churches as much as thatched houses, bridges as much as bombs—how does it specifically connect to fashion or artisanal work? Also, while the Sari Room has started off with a good selection, its sustenance might be another story.

The sari wars aren’t just alternative theatre on the periphery of mainstream fashion. With competition ranging from the Crafts Council of India to Dastkar; from Dilli Haat to sari stores like Aavaranaa in Chennai or Kamala and Utsav in New Delhi that sell distinct handlooms, keeping a sari room constantly on the boil may not be easy.

Talk plastic

Fabric bags start from `3,500, some even less; most fashion separates are `5,500-12,000, and most saris are in the `4,500-35,000 range.

Neel Sutra, at The Oberoi, Gurgaon, 443 Udyog Vihar, Phase V, Gurgaon, Haryana (0124-2451234). Open daily.

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