Designer Speak – Shahab Durazi – The Man with Mettle

The Shahab Durazi label bespeakes style, class and pedigree. Flaunting one of his creations signifies,  you have arrived. What is it about this unassuming , talented genius that makes him a brand to reckon with in the ever changing, fast moving world of fashion? An unshakable pedestal, he continues to emblazon his   Shahab Durazi imprint. Inimitable, unmatched.

From a privileged education at Cathedral & John Connon High School and finally graduating with honours from the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, having won the Harve Bernard Critics Award for technical excellence in garment construction. Shahab  embarked on a journey that was instrumental in redefining Indian fashion sensibilities.

Shahab Durazi  weaves his spell  over  Priyanka Sippy as she showcases  his signature designing genius.

PS-If you had three words to describe your brand what would they be?

SD– Distinctive, Refined and Timeless.

PS-Shahab Durazi was well known for western clothing. How did the extension to Indian clothing happen? And why?  Tell us more about this line.

SD-The concept to design Indian wear actually came from my clients. It came at a time when the industry was inundated with an abundance of overtly Indian, traditional clothing that started to get incestuous and excessive. Many of my clients felt Indian clothing need not always be excessive in embellishments, colour and concept hence the need for more subtle, refined clothes that were Indian in spirit but western in thought and treatment. My clients goaded me to begin with a line of sarees. There was no looking back from there. We introduced Indian wear that was a marriage between the beauty of India and the functionality of the west. Today we design a range of sarees, lehengas, anarkalis, kalidars, kurtas, bandhgalas, sherwanis and achkans that are contemporary yet

PS-I believe your Indian wear creates a statement because of the “slight” western touch as they say. Is this a fact?

SD- Yes, my Indian line is distinctive simply because I have used patterns generally used for western silhouettes presented with an Indian aesthetic. Even the embellishments are predominantly western with a preference for subtlety and restraint. To elaborate, our anarkalis are cut from a pattern frequently used for swing coats. Our lehengas are cut from patterns used for western gowns and our cholis are customised using corset construction prevalent in western couture. Although the concepts may seem Indian in presentation, what sets them apart instantly is a distinctive construct that is borrowed from western couture.

PS-Shahab Durazi is known as an extremely niche brand, only catering to a very specific clientele. Tell us how this has continued to work for you despite being part of a highly y competitive industry. How have you managed to maintain the enviable position you enjoy?

SD-Our brand caters to a niche clientele that clearly understands the nuances of our philosophy. Our product is very strategically defined to a discerning pool of customers. The intricacies of construction and the care to cater to a very select audience instantly sets us apart as being specialised in our line of work. The kind of work we do is difficult to obtain elsewhere giving us a monopoly of sorts and establishing our target clientele through hard work and dedication.

PS-Shahab Durazi is fast creating a name in bridal wear, both Indian and western, with clients flying down from across the globe to get an exclusive wedding dress, specially made by Shahab Durazi. Tell us about the success of this particular line. How have you made it work for you? Who are some of the well-known personalities who enjoy wearing your designs? Do tell.

SD-We have a loyal following of expats and even foreigners who have customised bridal wear with us. It is usually very expensive to get customised bridal wear overseas and many clients see it commercially viable to opt for our services as they have the conviction of getting quality at a better price. When it comes to Indian bridal wear, although the market has an abundance of options, many expats prefer a fusion or Indo-western approach to their clothing, something we do extensively. Some of our clients include Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Lara Dutta, Neerja Birla, Tanya Dubash, Simi Garewal, Parmeshwar Godrej, Sangita Jindal, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Reena Wadhwa.

PS-Your men’s wear line is fast gaining momentum in the popularity polls. Tell us more. How does it stand out from other menswear designers? What is your focus?

SD-Although our men’s wear line is usually smaller than our women’s wear line, it is clearly more classic, understated and precise. We lay great importance to the construction and tailoring of our men’s suits, bandhgalas and sherwanis as their construction is their USP. The customer understands that our line is more about quality rather than design. We keep our silhouettes simple, classic, while innovating with details and fabrics. It is a hallmark of quality clothing worldwide.

PS-Who, from the current new breed of designers have, in your opinion, exceptional/promising talent as designers? And why?

SD-Some of the names that come to mind are AM:PM, Atsu, Rahul Mishra. I love AM:PM. They have a very crisp, clean approach to modern contemporary clothing that I personally feel resonates well with the times. Their silhouettes remain classic and their style and philosophy is well defined, focused and forward. Emphasis is on the shape and detailing enhances their eye for structure. Atsu is also very contemporary, albiet a bit more restrained and conservative. It’s all about the details and colour, although subdued sometimes, which play a pivotal role in his story. Rahul Mishra tells his story with ease. I think that itself is his single most promising strength. His approach seems effortless but the thought process behind the effort is clearly very engaging.

PS-Who, from your contemporaries, are your favourites? And why?

SD-Wendell Rodricks for his sheer elegance in effortlessly presenting line after line that is clever, confident and very creative. Anamika Khanna for her quirky approach to an astonishing marriage of “East meets West” without really succumbing to gimmickry that would otherwise dilute the brand and relegate it to frivolity. And Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna for their minimalistic magic with western wear that clearly whispers a sense of luxe refinement.

PS-Who, from the high jewellery Indian brands are exceptionally good and who would you like to match your creations with?

SD- Farah Khan Fine Jewellery,

PS-If asked to collaborate with an International Luxury Brand, would you be open ?

SD-  Absolutely! 🙂

PS-In your opinion, should there be more opportunities for Indian Designers to work on a line under International Luxury Brands? How can more such opportunities be created?

SD- Yes, I believe Indian fashion is evolving rapidly and the course is directional and definitely very vibrant. We have amazing talent but unfortunately as designers, we are burdened with responsibilities that clearly go beyond the creative, resulting in distraction and dilution of our true potential. International brands should diversify their product ranges for specific markets. This could be done by tapping talent for creating lines that reflect the strength of each designer yet endorsing the brands lineage.

PS-When was the last show you had? Why do you only show after a gap of a few years, and not more often?

SD- My last show was on 10/10/10. I will show any time, as often. I just need an appropriate platform that will enhance my work and endorse the image it wishes to establish. For this it is imperative that the sponsor grants me not just the creative license to create the perfect platform but also the means to attain it. This would work well for both, the designer as well as the sponsor as the end goal is to create a property of immense value that commands respect for its creativity and presentation.

PS-Shahab Durazi shows were looked forward to for their sheer opulence and high end glamour. We would like to see them more frequently. When does your next show happen?

SD- I will show when I hopefully find that elusive generous sponsor!

PS-Who. In your opinion, was the perfect muse for your designs? And why?

SD- Without meaning to sound cliched, every single model who as adorned a Shahab Durazi creation, be it for print or for the catwalk, has personified the muse I search for. The quest for the perfect muse shall never end because each of these beautiful people have brought a bit of themselves to my canvas and presented my work with their stamp of individuality.

PS-Do tell us about an iconic moment from one of your fashion shows.

SD- My most memorable moment was to see both my parents seated right up front for my first solo showing, applauding me with pride and gusto. I lost my mother soon after, that moment will never come again.

PS-If you have a word of advice to young aspiring designers, what is it?


SD- All budding designers must look within and understand which area of fashion is their forte. Specialise! The gamut of merchandise is vast. Find your true calling. If one feels they have a flair for knitwear or tailoring or active sportswear, then pursue that specialisation. The current ambiguity that all fashion is the same has to change.





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