The Kolkata-based couturier Sabyasachi has a new hot spot in the streets of West Village in New York, where his international clientele can flock to experience his India-rooted world first-hand from the 16th of October. The store, housed in The Archive building at 160 Christopher Street, marks a new journey for Sabyasachi’s couture wares that have had a resounding success with brides and clients on a global scale.
“I knew I wanted to create the undiluted Sabyasachi experience for New York that India has known for decades. A major part of that is in the location itself. Be it Stonewall or Christopher Street or West Village itself, I felt like I knew the neighbourhood through headlines and history, but it was a connection that’s hard to define. And when I walked into The Archive, this magnificent Romanesque Revival building, so strong in its own legacy, I just knew this was it,” explains Mukherjee. The designer’s new address charts the journey from Kolkata to NYC through oak archways and inside a space that transports you into Sabyasachi’s brand of slow luxury and Indian decadence.
While his clothes have found space in retail spaces like Bergdorf Goodman, Browns, and Selfridges, this would be the designer’s first store in international waters. The occasion will also mark the launch of his new collection, ‘The New York edit’. In the early years of his career, Sabyasachi showcased his Spring/Summer 07 collection at New York Fashion Week, which was the last interaction he had with the city, until now. “I was always upset by the fact that while India has such a deep history of luxury, we weren’t seeing Indian luxury brands proliferate the markets. I knew early on that I wanted to change that narrative. It was on my flight back to India from my New York Fashion Week showing that I realised that I was doing this all wrong. I got a great response there. But it didn’t feel right. I realised that I had to first own my space in my own country and create a brand that was authentically Indian before I took it to the world. Now the time has come,” he says.
The store launch took place on the 13th of October where Sabyasachi plied guests with the ultimate experience of Indian luxury. The space sees hallways covered from the floor to the ceiling in framed paintings inspired by Qajar art from the Persian dynasty, 16th-century Mughal miniatures, Indian Pichhwais, and vintage photographs. Glass chandeliers hanging low from the ceiling light up this decked-out maze, where tables overflowed with food plated on silver— a special arrangement for the event. Amidst this East-meets-West narrative that Sabyasachi articulated with his knack for attention-to-detail, visitors can take a stroll around on the plush hand-knotted carpets, kilims, and rugs, to also find aged mirrors wedged between cabinets of curiosities that were sourced from souks, and weathered leather-bound books shelved in nooks and crannies.
“I’ve often said I see myself as a ferryman between the past and the future. India is such a reservoir of history, art, and culture—and I believe that for culture to be relevant it needs to be dynamic. My job is to make it dynamic for today’s consumer. I think the aesthetic behind all my stores—including New York, comes from the spirit of Kolkata that is so beautifully embodied in the old homes and palaces of the city,” reveals Sabyasachi, for whom the store is almost a metaphor for the journey from Kolkata to New York. India’s craft legacy is entrenched into every detail of the interior space upholstered in his signature prints, where he will stock his collections and his jewellery line. “The special way that only Sabya can communicate brand India was brought to an international audience with the opening of this store. The way his collections have been iterated for an international audience is chic and in keeping with his aesthetic and every little detail in the store is Sabyasachi perfection as one would expect,” said Megha Kapoor, Vogue India’s Head of Editorial Content, of the launch event in New York.
Sabyasachi’s international presence has mainly existed within the framework of bridal couture, take into consideration his successful all-white couture collection for international brides, and the Indian brides seeking a sliver of wedding regalia that reflects their Indian heritage on the big day. With this store and the launch of his new collection, the designer is also dabbling in a new segment of clothing that moves beyond bridal and into a younger version of his signature designs, transferred onto breezy dresses, trousers, and trenches, alongside saris and kaftans, while still retaining his craftsmanship. “I think there is a lot of admiration for Indian crafts and craftsmanship. India has such a massive heritage and legacy with slow luxury. But to create a luxury brand you also need a perspective and a strong design aesthetic that is not driven by trend and time but can stand the test of time. I knew Sabyasachi was ready to step onto the global stage, not as a debutant but as an established brand that is sure in its sense of self. And where better than one of the global fashion capitals of the world.”