It’s a proud moment for Chennai — Vivek Karunakaran, a city-based fashion designer, showcased his collection Seabiscuit, at the Lakme Fashion Week recently. Going by the name, you would have guessed by now that the theme for the line was based on the 2003 movie. But what’s even more interesting is that the equestrian concept has been clubbed with kalamkari, an ancient Indian art form. The designs exude a strong, masculine, powerful vibe yet have the aesthetic appeal that the fine kalamkari lines provide. From waistcoats, double and single-breast jackets, cropped pants and breeches, this collection of luxury sportswear has it all.
Speaking to the designer, we get to know that he loves animals, especially horses and that was one of the key reasons behind Seabiscuit. “I’ve had a love for animals since I was young — dogs and horses took top priority. Just the way a stallion stands tall and proud, mesmerises me,” says Vivek. Another inspiration was to highlight kalamkari in the right light, and give it the due it deserves. “I think this is an art form that hasn’t been explored enough. It has so much potential, and is also very close to my heart.” Even though kalamkari is usually associated with a feminine appearance, he was bold enough to incorporate it in this all men’s line. “Initially fairness creams were only for women, but now even men use it don’t they? As a designer, I wanted to bring out the beauty of this art-oriented yet luxurious fabric, and show that kalamkari can be used in a variety of ways.”
Vivek is convinced that kalamkari is suitable for men, but here’s an incident that will convince you as well, “A few clients came to my studio to finalise some sherwanis and suits for their wedding. They saw this line hanging in the studio and couldn’t take their eyes off it. They finally left after ordering six shirts from the collection!” he says with a smile.
We now clearly know that even though Vivek likes challenges, he knows how to create the perfect amalgamation of functionality, style, power, fabrics and aesthetics. “This collection has in fact been all about the clothes doing the talking — I wanted to keep it modern, yet add a touch of ancient to it. And even though the line is named after a horse that was like an underdog, the inspirations come from the animal and what jockeys wear,” he explains adding, “The fashion line is not a literal translation of the theme.”
Every small piece has been crafted with care by an in-house team, constantly under Vivek’s supervision. “I’ve incorporated embroidered number patches on some of the clothes — even these small details were based on what I wanted. My main aim is to maintain quality, and that means I have to constantly monitor every aspect of this exercise,” says Vivek.
True to his word, all the fabrics used — jersey, bourbon, linen, and silk, be it woven or non-woven, are top-notch. They have a strong visual element that speaks volumes about the designer’s dedication to his work and passion for the arts. Now all that’s left is to see Vivek ride a horse himself! “Doing this collection and the photoshoot for it increased my love for horses — yes, I would love to train and ride a horse someday,” he signs off with a smile.