'India's youth unaware of country's rich heritage'

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 24, 2013 05:50 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) India's youth is unaware of the country's rich culture and heritage, rues Umang Hutheesing, a noted fashion expert who has worked with leading foreign luxury names such as Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld.

The scion of the noted Hutheesing family, which has been providing continued employment to local artisans across the country since 1881, wants to do his bit in "igniting" the minds of youth towards this heritage which, he believes, the world is gradually taking note of.

"I have inherited a great legacy from my family. I have grown up wearing Indian royal costumes and I wanted to share its beauty and luxury with society at large. India is quickly integrating into the globalised community and our youth are not aware of our county's rich and ancient heritage," the Ahmedabad-based Hutheesing told IANS.

"Through my exhibitions and costumes, I wish to reach out to them and ignite the passion to better understand their country and culture," he added.

The designer, 48, comes from the family which owns the Hutheesing Design Company (HDC), which has been using Indian craft, talent and sensibilities to create design solutions of high standards for international audience. Their works include the design execution of the East Wing of the White House and London's Kensington Palace.

Today Hutheesing manages HDC's business - which ranges from bespoke furniture to customised, high-end bridal wear, saris, lehengas, anarkalis, sherwanis and bandgalas.

The idea is to stick to "classical and old-fashioned" sensibilities.

"My design sensibilities are classical. I am not fashioned, I am old fashioned! I like the classical and traditional (things)," said Hutheesing, who recently showcased his Heritage collection at design house Evolzuione here.

What does he think of the fusion trend?

"I have observed that most designers are creating fusion clothing (today), which the younger generation may be drawn to. But there is a niche market for those who love what is culturally ours.

"My designs are inspired from the royal costumes and the great 'poshak khanas' of India. We are one of the few countries in the world where our culture and traditions are ancient yet continuous! This is the fact to be celebrated," Hutheesing added.

At his level, he celebrates it through his collection in museums and foundations, so that globally, designers get inspiration and the world understands "our aesthetics" better.

"I had showcased my collection with YSL foundation in Paris. It was attended by a galaxy of senior designers from across the world, after which Karl Lagerfeld presented his Paris-Mumbai collection, Hermes their saris, Canali their bandgalas and Louis Vuitton their India collection.

"I plan to showcase similar shows in major capitals of the world, building bridges of friendship through culture and design," Hutheesing said.

An admirer of designers Rohit Bal and Wendell Rodricks, Hutheesing believes himself to be a "historian, revivalist and patron". For him, India is an "important country in the world of textiles".

"Whether it's the rich brocades of Banaras, the delicate embroideries of Kashmir and Kutch or lustrous khadi of India's heartland, it has always been a symbol of India's culture heritage. In fact, Jawaharlal Nehru had very correctly said that 'The history of India may well be written with textile as its leading motif'," he said.

He feels proud with the way the luxury market is expanding in the country too.

"India is a growing market and there is now a lot of demand for luxury products. Global brands are foraying here to get a slice of this pie. It is good for Indian consumers that they have a larger choice of products and, for the Indian designers, it gives them the drive to achieve global standards," Hutheesing added.

(Nivedita can be contacted at nivedita.s@ians.in)

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