Fair weather for leather
Vipul Amar along with his partner Harsheen K Arora are in demand for the all-leather look in Raabta, says Angela Paljor
Well, Raabta, the film, may have bombed but has gifted its leather designer duo, Vipul Amar and Harsheen K Arora from The V Renaissance (TVR), their biggest brand appeal. Post the film, they are getting many industry queries about their leather designs and artefacts.
They devoted long hours to crafting the armour that becomes the crux of Sushant Singh Rajput’s look in Raabta. Rajput is portrayed as a warrior in his past life, a visual treat, as the outfits look realistic and appealing.
Amar feels that authenticity is the major factor when it comes to the designing an outfit, especially for a period film. “Given the time period, what kind of armour was worn, its functionality and the particular look that it carried were all crucial. The wet look that was carried during the war, perfectly showcased in Vikings,” says Amar. Moreover, the armour had to reflect the character’s movement in different terrains. He adds, “Since leather is a natural product, there is a certain ageing that takes place and is rather continuous. If the armour gets a cut and is continuously worn, then the cut is going to expand and deform. All these aspects, where natural corrosion takes place, had to be reflected on the outfit.”
A great deal of research went into making such an outfit. Amar says, “The research part was basic science, how one element when collaborated with another reacts. So, we collected all the elements which the character goes through, particularly the terrains. If the character is crossing the Himalayas then the leather would be hard and it will have its own texture. In cases of desserts, there will sand, if one is crossing a river, there will be water and grass which will have pigments of green. All these were kept in account to create it.”
For Amar and his team, it was rather the extensive movement that was challenging and not the texture. “Armour needs to have that specification that will make it look realistic and not give a plastic feel. When we talk about the design, first it should be comfortable and second, it should look agreeable. We wanted everything to look authentic, so we didn’t stitch anything rather masonry was used to bind everything.” But if you think that’s easy, think again. “It’s one thing to sketch the designs on a paper but for us it was all about natural progressions. The ergonomics, the body movement had to be kept it mind, so the mechanics had to be realistic. This was really difficult, but we had the description of the movements the character will go through so, we made out team members wear the outfits and try different movements.”
Talking about the leather that went into making the outfit and the process of giving it the texture needed, Amar says, “The Raabta team approached us for leather that only TVR makes. It takes three to four years to construct vintage leather which is purely natural and without any chemicals which we produced in a month. We have been experimenting on the texture that comes after years of processing and gives a vintage look.” So, they imported the hides from Italy and processed it naturally and tried to bring out the leather finish that would have been available at that time. “The leather used is textured, especially on the chest of the armour and that is what we provide and cannot be replicated,” he says
There is a definite distinction between fabric designing and armour designing; Amar concentrates on the technicality rather than the design. “For Raabta, technicality came first and later design. Had it been fabric, it would have been totally different but this was something really specialised and this created a need for a designer as well as a technician. As far as a designing is concerned, one has to match the vision of the director, follow the visual aspects and then bring on the technicalities to do it.”
Amar is a professional photographer but had developed a keen interest in leather, watching his grandfather’s leather suitcases, trench coats, and chairs — all that we now call vintage. Amar was always fascinated by leather and by the time he was 16 he started his own business and had one dream of owning an outfit made entirely of leather. But in India it was and still is hard to find pure natural leather. One has to go to Paris, Italy or US. “I would buy leather from a store that imported it from Italy and I would make carpenters come and make furniture for the office. Four years back, we shifted back to Delhi from Bombay and the whole exercise of leather furnishing was going on but then we started getting people who were interested in owning one,” he recalls. This was the beginning of TVR where they work from scratch, taking into account the client’s personality and requirements.
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