Sabyasachi Mukherjee is many things - a fashion designer, a bridal couture maestro, a celebrity favourite and a global frontrunner of Indian fashion. His clothing line, accessories and footwear boast of one-of-a-kind ethnic motifs with gorgeous prints and embroideries. While everything is first class in the design department, it is his casual statements and remarks that are costing him a lot these days.
Recently, Sabyasachi was in the news for his post on Instagram that got some serious backlash from netizens. Once again, he wrote about women - his primary target audience - and landed himself in brutal cyber trolling. Instagrammers, bloggers, influencers, and his followers called him out for his prejudiced statement. But more on that later.
Here are some of the biggest Sabyasachi controversies that are hard to forget.
All The Controversial Statements By Sabyasachi
The Recent ‘Overdressed’ Post
Sabyasachi announces his new collection with a campaign on Instagram whenever he launched one. Gorgeous pictures taken at extravagant locations are his usual. In an interview with Architectural Digest, he had said, “I don’t believe in catwalk shows anymore. Instagram is so powerful, 65 per cent of my business originates from there.” So, yes, Instagram is his bread and butter.
Talking about his latest collection Paradise Lost, Sabyasachi shared a post on Instagram that said, “If you see a woman ‘overdressed’, caked with makeup, armoured with jewellery, it is most likely that she is wounded.” Here’s the complete quote:
And the internet revolted. “Imagine having made ALL your money out of selling to women this idea of beauty that requires exorbitant spending on maintaining an aestheticism and then shaming them exactly for that. You’re a broken man, sir,” wrote Priyanka Paul. Another user named Harnidh K wrote, “By this definition every one of your brides is a ‘broken woman’ at least think once before posting.” The post broke the internet.
Soon, Sabyasachi accepted this statement to be “flawed” and posted an explanation “to set the record straight”. Here’s what he wrote:
The Offensive Comment On Models, The Face Of His Brand
During an interview with AD, Sabyasachi got candid and discussed his plans for the brand. He spoke about taking a new direction in the imagery but no one saw it coming as an attack on women’s physical appearance. By changing the image, he meant changing his models.
He had said, “In fashion, you have to reinvent yourself every three to five years. You need to be fresh. Right now, I’ve become tired of gaunt faces and stick-thin models. I’m obsessed by boobs!”
Needless to say, he got into trouble for being disrespectful towards body shapes and his highly offensive statements were not taken well once the article came out.
The ‘Saree’ Speech At Harvard University
How can one ever forget the infamous saree speech that he gave at the prestigious Harvard University in Cambridge? He shamed women who didn’t know how to drape a saree. The designer had said that Indian women are identified by sarees, it’s a part of the culture, and not knowing how to tie a saree is “a relationship of misunderstanding.” All this on a global platform!
“I think, if you tell me that you do not know how to wear a saree, I would say shame on you. It's a part of your culture, you need to buck up and stand up for it.”
Furthermore, he talked about how the relationship between an Indian woman and a saree as that of a human being and a serpent. You can read that twice if the first reading didn’t sit well with you. He explained, “It's a relationship of misunderstanding. You need to embrace the saree. Wars have been fought in saree. Grandmothers have slept in saree and have woken up without a single pleat out of their way.”
Later, the designer issued a three-part apology to all those hurt by his statements. Sadly, his open letter seemed less like an apology and more like a feeble defence.
In the light of these episodes of shaming of women that keep happening from time to time, Sabyasachi's team should pay heed and try to be more sensitive with what they push out on social media. The intentions behind their campaigns may not be wrong, but the end result can come off as harsh to some. What do you think?