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India's veteran designer, Shahab Durazi talks couture and the ever-evolving fashion industry

Shahab Durazi returned to the runway after 12 years at FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week.

A veteran designer known for his classic clothing, elegant tailoring, and outfits that have remained timeless for decades—Shahab Durazi took to a fashion show after more than a decade. Brought to the runway by Lakmé Fashion Week, it was a show that heralded us to the Bombay of the 40s and 50s. As I sat, I could tell there was a sense of anticipation filling the air. There were faces who just wanted to see the designer, who has consciously stayed away from the limelight.

A retrospective collection with a touch of contemporary, the outfits had a nostalgic flavour and a well-balanced amount of dazzle. After the show, we caught up with the designer to talk about all things fashion.

Here are the excerpts.

Cosmo: You’ve returned to the runway after 12 years, what are some things that have changed and what are the classic things that remain the same?

Durazi: The thing that has changed is that things have become very fast—things move fast, and there are things you have to get done fast. To do that you need to keep up with the times. And sometimes, there is a compromise on the quality of design, and the quality of work suffers. It takes a lot for you to not compromise on your quality, your beliefs, and still keep up with the pace. You don’t have the luxury of time when you can sit and see the garment on a model and decide if you want to change it, not change it. When I started out, there was no Bollywood in fashion and there is a lot of it today. We have a lot of corporates who are looking to invest in designers, which is a great thing. It was there earlier too but not much was happening. It’s a great change which I hope will go forward and translate into good business both for the corporates and designers. The industry’s perception of me hasn’t changed at all. They still view me as a couturier who does classic clothing, which is very good because I want to be known for what my strength is. The focus is on doing good design. 

Cosmo: What are some of the timeless elements that are featured in your collection?

Durazi: The tailoring is leaning towards the past. I borrowed from dandy dressing and from the very chic, classic silhouettes of the 40s and the 50s for women—there were very clean lines, capes, pantsuits, and jackets. All these are very structured and sleek, and they were taken and incorporated in a contemporary evening wear context.

shahab durazi

Cosmo: Can you talk about the need for slow fashion and how can we actively adopt it?

Durazi: People want volumes because they want business. It’s all about the numbers. The only way you can have slow fashion is if you pay a lot of attention to the product and a little less to marketing it. The idea is not to be noticed, but to be noticed for what you are doing. 

Cosmo: What are some of this season’s couture must-haves?

Durazi: A beautifully embellished and embroidered pantsuit, a well-crafted skirt, an embellished chiffon blouse, it can even be just a nicely embroidered belt! Men can wear broaches. You can just take one or two things and just add itit dresses up your look so much. A nice pair of embroidered pants with classic cuts can last you for years!

shahab durazi

Cosmo: What are some of the most prominent trends that are emerging in men’s fashion?

Durazi: The reason I did dandy clothing is that it brings genderfluidity in menswear—it’s kinda androgynous but yet not crossed over. So, there is a lot of femininity in menswear—dandy collars, bows, and beautifully embroidered lace cuffs.