Who knew sportswear could be so sexy? MANHOLE, the latest collection by award-winning designer Shweta Kapur, is fueled by her own injurious fall down the so-called shaft. While another woman might hide an embarrassing fall, Kapur shined a light on the transforming episode because she saw an opportunity. More specifically, she saw the inspiration for the A/W 2015 collection of her label, 431-88. Models walked the runway at Amazon India Fashion Week sporting cutout dresses, minimalist saris, flowing trenches and fringe embellished sweatshirts. Monochromatic blacks, greys and whites were interspersed with splashes of red, which represented her bloody leg and scar tissue from the fall. Sounds gory, right? But the outcome is a thoughtful and surprisingly fashionable metaphor for her experience.
While 431-88 is known for its urban athletic vibe, the MANHOLE collection isn’t just for the minimalist tomboy. Each piece is etched in clean cuts with exquisite tailoring, making them classic staples for a serious fashionista’s wardrobe. Comfort chic at it’s finest. It’s no wonder celebs like Alia Bhatt, Jacqueline Fernandez and Diana Penty wear her creations. Discover more about the badass chick behind the gritty label 431-88 in this exclusive interview.
The Manhole collection has been described as “urban grunge” with inspiration taken from your own injurious fall into a manhole. Aside from the manhole, did you find urban grunge influence elsewhere such as the 90s, where this style was also popular?
Not really. The look of the collection when put together just naturally reflected the brand aesthetic, which does tilt towards urban grunge. We always style the shows on the basis of how we see our woman. For MANHOLE, I wanted to work on easy separates, which were sexy in their own way. Subtle cut outs and slits worked their way in to depict the injury. Prints included a manhole grid, which was made out of legs, since the injury was on the leg.
Out of New York, London, Mumbai and New Delhi, where you have trained under the likes of VPL, Burberry, Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla and Nitin Balchauhan, respectively, which city holds the most sway over your heart?
Well it has to be London since I studied there and most of my formative years as a designer were based in that city. The city always has something going on related to art and culture and has a fresh youthful vibe. The fact that it’s so diverse and in turn a melting point of so many cultures, really changes your perception when it comes to designing. Besides the fact that it is a fashion capital, the way the people express and communicate through clothes is really inspiring.
How has winning an award like the Elle Graduates Award for Excellence opened new pathways for your career?
It gave me a lot of exposure and made the industry notice the label.
Your label 431-88 steers toward sporty, sexy and minimalistic. How would you describe your own style?
My own style is pretty much similar, maybe slightly more relaxed. I’m most comfortable in an oversized boyfriend shirt and a pair of jeans.
You often stick to a limited color palette, but at times inject a bold color. Do you see color as a character in your collection? What is your philosophy on color?
Yes. Because it’s such a strong visual tool/element, injecting color for me always has to make sense and add to the story.
Do you have any plans to ever design a South Asian/bridal collection?
We do our version of a sari, which is sexy, sporty and approachable. Even if we do create a bridal collection, it would be an extension of the brand aesthetic and ethos. At the end of the day, you are always thinking about your woman and what she will wear.
Becoming a successful fashion designer is no easy feat. What’s your mantra for the more challenging times?
Always be focused and remember why you started in the first place.
Where can we shop your latest collection?
We are online with our new collection on our website.
All images courtesy of 431-88 by Shweta Kapur.