Silky hand-embroidered cape.Picture: SDR.

The Haute fashion event taking place in Durban later this month is set to generate excitement. The three-day show; held at the Square Boutique Hotel, Umhlanga, from July 28-30 will include showcases by Nitin Kartikeya, founder of Kartikeya, part of the Haute Fashion Extravaganza line-up. 

What was it like growing up in India?

I was born in Lucknow, which is the capital of Uttar Pradesh, the biggest state in India. I have fond memories of my childhood.

I was an avid sports fan and played a lot of cricket. I captained my school team. I was also an inter-school chess champion and pretty okay in studies.

Although you played lots of sport, did you always know you would be a designer?

I only knew I would be working for myself. At school I realised I wouldn’t be able to play cricket at the highest level, and decided because of my love for cinema and clothes, I’d start my own venture or make films.

Fortunately I came across Alexander McQueen’s work, which inspired me and taught me that fashion can be more conceptual and entertaining, not just a piece of clothing to be worn. Every artist has a canvas to paint and I choose fabric as my canvas.

Two piece by Kartikeya. Picture: Picture: SDR.

Where did you learn fashion design?

My inclination towards fashion started at a young age. I used to look at my mom’s knitting patterns, which she used to take from some Soviet magazines which I also used to look into. I realised there was huge gap between the Indian and international fashion.

My idea was to bridge the gap between them and I went to Delhi and studied fashion design there before launching my label.

It was 2013 when you launched your brand. Tell us a bit more about it

Kartikeya is a high-end womenswear brand, specialising in couture evening wear.

The brand is known for its craftsmanship and unique styling. It was launched in 2013 and the label still strives to breathe a fresh new life into old world lore.

Hand-embroidered applique trouser suit with velvet top. Picture: SDR.

What makes this brand unique and stand out?

There’s quite a lot. It’s been said it’s best described as a fleeting play on past eras, that Kartikeya garments are heavily inspired by my dabbling in theatre and film.

My muse is a delicate concoction of old world heritage and romance for the arts.

This paradoxical nature adds a feeling of avant garde and surrealism to each piece.

The label is nourished by its roots in the faded opulence and magnificence of the Baroque era.

Inspired by the legacy, culture and mythical nature of the old world, each garment is exclusively crafted by skilled artisans and infused with a sense of raw energy, appealing to the sartorial sensibilities of a global client.

Kartikeya is known for its exquisite embroidery techniques, romantic silhouettes, characteristic ombre shades and contemporary outlook.

Red hand-embroidered short dress with velvet trim. Picture: SDR.

Being a designer is challenging and requires patience; how do you deal with the pressure?

Like any other work, there are challenges. But being a designer by choice, I love these challenges.

The most important thing is to keep the energies up as the team is looking up to me. It’s good fun and I enjoy the process.

We know that you are coming to South Africa soon for the Haute Fashion Extravaganza. What can we expect from you at the event?

Haute events are a wonderful opportunity for all of us, and especially for all the Indian designers who will be a part of it.

We will get a taste of the market as well as exposure of that side of the world.

My idea has always been to create a product which is modern and globally accepted. I will try to bridge the gap between the Indian and South African markets, through my crafts and contemporary outlook.

Durban being a cosmopolitan city with so much diversity, this will be a wonderful challenge.

As an Indian designer who loves embroideries, be ready for some embellishments and glamorous red carpet dressing from us, from short embellished dresses, worked up jackets and tailcoats, to long capes and cape dresses and some evening wear gowns.

Silky red asymmetric dress. Picture: SDR.

What would you like to learn about South African designers and the fashion when you visit Durban?

I would want to understand their aesthetic, as it’s a different culture to ours. I would like to learn from their crafts and the influence of traditional clothing in today’s fashion and how we can make it more contemporary and modern for young clientele.

Who is your favourite South African designer and why?

To be honest, I haven’t followed much of South African fashion, but I will do my research when I am there.

With four years of being in the industry, what are your biggest accomplishments and how did you achieve them?

As fashion designers and entrepreneurs, we have huge responsibility in terms of generating employment, sharpening labour skills and growing together with them as a team.

Keeping the team intact and creating a healthy working environment is something I am really happy about and feel proud of.

Silky hand-embroidered cape. Picture: SDR.

* The Haute Fashion Extravaganza will take place at The Square Boutique Hotel, uMhlanga Durban, between 7pm and 10pm on July 28, tickets start from R500 general and R900 VIP. On July 29 and 30, entry is free and the event will run from 10.30am to 5.30pm.

For bookings, contact Nafeesa Joosab on 082 786 7855. For more information check out @kartikeyaindia and @hautelifeevents

The Mercury