TODAY -

This jewel makeup artist in the crown of India
Source: The Sangai Express / L Romal M Singh/ DNA / Agencies

Bangalore, November 19 2012: He's known for his fresh perspective and professionalism and is now a hot favourite at fashion weeks Robert Naorem has arrived and how! Often being termed 'the busiest make-up artiste' in Bangalore today, Robert now plans to extend his forte and enter the world of designing something he's always wanted to do.

"I've seen so many designers and their collections and I must agree a lot of them have inspired me.

But what often catches my attention is the lack of natural lustre and simple beauty in the fabric and design something that I am terribly used to.

Being Manipuri, I am conscious of the simpler pleasures in life.

My love for pure handloom silk and cotton is what defines my design ethic and taste.

I just had to create a line of clothes that represented this ideology and that's how this began," opens Robert as we catch up with him over the weekend.

"We Manipuris love earthy colours and fabrics thick and heavy during our cold winters, resilient during our monsoons and breezy enough during the summer, to let the heat pass right through.

We weave the world around us into our clothes and take inspiration in colour from the natural beauty that Manipur is defined by that's what I wanted the world to see and hence the decision to become a designer," Robert adds.

The Manipur Fashion Extravaganza will come to life on January 6 and Robert has already planned a long list of events to celebrate the state's biggest fashion show.

"A lot of models have been approached, but for now we've zeroed in on Jackie Besterwitch, Priyanka Diwan, Mitali Rannorey and Dayana Erappa from Bangalore.

We've also signed on Meitei model Lin Laishram and Rikee Chatterjee from Mumbai.

I hope to get a few more models from Delhi too, but we haven't yet finalised that.

The male models are going to be primarily from Manipur as I think this is the best opportunity for local boys to get a chance to see how fashion works across the rest of India," Robert explains.

But will this show exclusively feature his work, we quickly ask.

"No, not really.

I will be showcasing my own line based on the unity and diversity in the state called Sandrembi and Cheisra, but there will be other designers too," he responds.

And what is Sandrembi and Cheisra? "Well, Sandrembi and Cheisra, is based on a good-versus-evil folktale that has come down to us through the ages.

My showstopper will be dressed as Sandrembi, the good, while the other models will be Cheisra, the bad.

That said, I do not mean that the clothes for the Cheisra line will be any less spectacular.

I am reviving a lost craft, a phanek (traditional sarong) called Kumjingdi, that is purely black with elaborate work on it, will find its way back to popular expression after being lost for several decades.

This phanek was exclusively worn by the Ningthouja royalty based out of the capital, Imphal, before the British began their interference in the then royal kingdom of Kangleipak," Robert elaborates.

And who is your showstopper? "Ha! I almost forgot.

Achala Sachdev has been gracious enough to agree to be my Sandrembi for the show and MS Shreedhar, Bangalore's most-loved choreographer has also agreed to enliven the shows with his talent.

It's going to be amazing," says the visually excited Robert.

Seems interesting enough, but what really is the reason behind the show, we finally ask.

"The fact the nobody really knows about Manipuri clothes and our fabrics and design ethic makes it really easy for people to steal property that is not necessarily theirs.

For example, the temple motif that is now often seen on border patterns across the country is ethnically Meitei nobody knows that! Worse still, people have heard of Manipuri silk in places like Sri Lanka, whereas in India, most people don't even know the special fabric exists, or even where Manipur is.

The cultural, geographical and political isolation of the North East from the rest of India has led to an alienation of all the cultural icons from this area and nobody seems to know much about anything unless they are connoisseurs of sorts.

It has to change and I want to change it.

I want to introduce my homeland to the rest of the world and that's really why this idea even came into being.

I just hope I do a good job and believe me, I am taking into consideration every possible detail and obstacle.

This has to work.

I am crossing my fingers and hoping really hard that all goes well," concludes Robert and we part ways, hoping for the same.


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