Manstyle Interview

ROCK ON

Words: Corina B Manuel
Photography: Rohit Zutshi

“His collections represent his own personal experiences and his journey as designer. They are a symbol of his love for his Indian roots and his modern inspirations”

Iconic sultan of style behind the Rocky Star label, Rocky S, has always cooked up a storm on the runways of haute couture and played by his own rules

Bronzed, brooding good looks, intense eyes, devastating charm and a deadly wit that’s underlined by an indescribable talent. Those are my earliest memories of Rocky S, one of the first fashion designers in the country who dressed up both the bloke on the street and the swish set. Don’t judge me. If you were talking about a ma who once gave new meaning to the term ‘luxury’ and whose creations you not only coveted but now hang in your wardrobe like prized pieces of personal art, you’d gush too. No matter your preferences, your gender, your age, your ‘type’, there is absolutely no denying that ‘the Rocky’ looks better than ever. And here’s the best part: over the next hour, while you listen to him, you also get a chance to probe that fascinating mind. And what comes out of his mouth will be, well, pretty smart for a smart boy. However, right now I have to comfort myself with a telephonic chat. He is currently
in Chennai on the sets of Robot 2.0, designing for one of his favourite clients, Akshay Kumar, the recipient of this year’s National Award for the Best Actor. So it follows to reason that our chat invariably begins with the big win and that he’s once again designing for the star in his forthcoming sci-fi cinematic adventure with the inimitable Rajinikanth for company. “I started my career with him; it’s been 22 years. I know exactly what works on him and what doesn’t work. He has not changed at all in this time, and I am speaking about his passion, dedication to his craft and that urge to keep pushing the envelope.

It’s a pleasure to work with him because he is so professional. The man wakes up at 5AM, he is on the set by 8 o’clock. To top it all, he is an extremely professional and a good looking guy who not only looks great but makes the clothes that he wears look amazing on him,” says the friend and designer proudly. Obviously thrilled for his friend and doubly revved by the windfall, Rocky has agreed to discuss something he is an expert in: reinvention. The Rocky Star label has always epitomised luxury, and has been known for its extravagant albeit discerning design sensibility. Fashionistas across the board swear that by his design aesthetics that are at once unpretentious and sophisticated; his label is a synthesis of hand-crafted textures and glamorous silhouettes. From runway to red carpet, Rocky has been there, done that. His USP lies in those singular creations that put chic back into style and exquisite into structured lines that have made their way towards the major platforms and personalities the world over. The wave-maker turned away from his ‘fastball’, the elegant collections that he has created well so many times, and took a step back to relook at everything. As a designer, he renewed the way fashion operates in India. Rocky started taking on assignments that were a stretch for him and ‘shook his floor’. Success can keep us from trying something new and putting ourselves out there. Why change? After all, isn’t that the only constant? Trade pundits say that Rocky believes in the importance of curiosity and learning even – especially – when you are doing well. Lovell Prabhu, Director, Storm Fashion, who has collaborated with Rocky on myriad projects, states, “Those crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

To have enough humility, but also that ego to believe you can do it. To be, almost a walking contradiction. To just be unbelievably curious, to travel to many different places, and listen to many different opinions. To want to be taught something. To want to sit down with people smarter than you and that think differently than you and truly listen. That’s Rocky’s strength.” The man of the moment decided to re-brand himself and change the narrative not because of failure or disappointment, but in the midst of great success. Yet, he has his own personal definition of success that created a turning point. After carving a niche in the industry, he brought an age of revival through his brand, an artisan of embroidery, silhouettes and unconventional textures and styling details. “I like to create. I love the fact that I can bring something to life that people can wear and enjoy,” he admits artlessly. Enjoy it, they do! Case in point his extensive private client list that includes names featured in Forbes Rich List as well as celebrities from both Bollywood to Hollywood like Paris Hilton, Pussycat Dolls, Beyonce, Bipasha Basu, John Abraham, Katrina Kaif, Shilpa Shetty, Shamita Shetty, Vivek Oberoi, Hrithik Roshan, Arjun Rampal, Dia Mirza, Esha Deol, Yana Gupta and Priyanka Chopra. He has designed a collection exclusively for Blackberry and Porsche in India.

Rocky’s collections have been a part of the Lakmé Fashion Week; he also showcased his work at the Milan Fashion Week and has been a part of the London Fashion Week for three seasons now. He recently showcased at the Dubai Fashion Fiesta and Times India Showcase Week in Delhi. “That’s a great high,” he muses, “To create something which is yours and nobody can take it away from you; it’s your own creativity. I draw my inspirations from my travels and I love music so much, and these are the things which transport me to a place where I can imagine something that is really fascinating and then translate it onto my clothes,” he explains about his creative process. If you’re one of the 40.7k people who follow Rocky S on Instagram, you’re familiar with his body of work. Rocky Star is known for his exquisite craftsmanship, stunning and opulent embroidery and impeccable fit and finishing. He is a couturier star. But what stands out is his love for his country. He is in love with India’s rich cultural heritage and the traditional crafts and believes in the responsibility of designers ensuring the longevity of these traditions and crafts.

“His collections are a representation of his own personal experiences and his journey as a designer and are a perfect amalgamation of his love for his Indian roots and his modern inspirations. The sympathetic synergy with which he creates his ensembles are akin to magic” is the consensus. Rocky believes that the fashion scene in India is “going to another level all together, I mean when I started there was nothing – no electronics, no internet. There was no access to a lot of things like fabrics and I had to literally make each and every piece. The whole thing changed with what the internet has done; with Instagram and Facebook, everything is accessible. Everyone knows what is happening around the world, in a second you know you can source anything around the world; can connect with anybody in the world. Today, fashion in India has become so strong with all the international brands picking a piece of real estate and pushing it that people are actually going out to change wardrobes every season now! Earlier, it used to be, get one ensemble and use it for the whole year. Now you don’t really need to open a store; you’re online and it is more than having a store of your own,” he reveals.

After having carved a niche for himself in the fashion industry, Rocky recently ventured into a partnership with Shoppers Stop. His ready-to-wear brand RS by Rocky Star has garnered appreciation and a fan base for its fun and urbane vibe. His aesthetic continues to be simple yet incredibly stylish. Case in point, creative textures and vibrant prints are the essence of his line. Adding to his ever-growing repertoire of creative endeavours he has launched RS Jeans, which is a line of denims and streetwear, and there’s of course, the RS Kids label for the little darlings. “I think, today, parents spend more money on the kids than on themselves. Every designer has a children’s line. It’s a great start because you know in the future you will have brand loyalty,” grins the astute businessman. Speaking of time, the designer refuses to live in the past. “I don’t regret anything,” he says quietly, “If at all, I simply regret the things which I didn’t like in the past, I would not repeat them. A technical error on my clothes or the kind of fabrics I used. You know, if I had that knowledge now I would not have done it then!” he shrugs. Rocky is a great fan of the phrase “re-innovate”. As we call it a day, he muses pensively, “You have to be inventive. It’s very important to value your heritage and history, if we don’t, I don’t think we can move forward. We have to keep holding on to what we were back then. Of course being futuristic is very big but bringing in your past and making it your future is amazing,” he signs off, his mind already on tomorrow.

    

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