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A gorgeous piece of fabric with meticulous handwork, a flawless archetype of Indian traditional wear. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? It would probably be a saree or a lehenga. And if you have to instantly name a designer who represents this kind of artwork? Yes, that would be Sabyasachi Mukherjee. The ‘brand’ Sabya for most of us. 

But some of us who care to go deeper into matters and observe from various lenses, it’s just one aspect of this man. It’s his talent of creating these exquisite, dreamy tales of weddings and celebration and no one is taking that away from him. But talk about separating the art from the artist?  It is difficult, but can we at least acknowledge that there is something terribly wrong with Sabya and the ideas of femininity he promotes?

There is probably no story repeated more often in the history of all things art than that of a talented artist who is revealed to be simply a bad person.  In this case, the utter disrespect and blatant objectification of women by Sabya. Yes, we are talking about his recent comment, but not just that.

For those who aren’t caught up, recently Sabyasachi was (once again) in the news for his social media post stating that “overdressed women” are “most likely wounded” and put on heavy makeup to hide their scars and bruises. The entire country acted surprised, when, in fact, Sabya has been a privileged misogynist who has objectified women time and again. 

If you aren’t aware of your favorite designer being a defaulter repeatedly, it’s okay. I didn’t know about all of it too, but I did my homework. 

To start with, let’s talk about Sabya’s boob-obsession. It may sound weird, right? But wait till you get to know the entire comment. In an interview with Architectural Digest, Sabyasachi 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!”

Okay. 

So, Sabyasachi needs to objectify women to keep his art ‘fresh.’ And if that wasn’t enough, it is all the more problematic that he finds it absolutely okay to accept it in front of the entire world. If that isn’t (male) privilege, I don’t know what is! 

“I think, if you tell me that you do not know how to wear a saree, I would say shame on you,”

-Sabyasachi Mukherjee 

Now, moving forward to the mansplaining aspect of Sabyasachi Mukherjee, we found him comfortably shaming women for not knowing how to wear sarees while “Grandmothers have slept in saree and have woken up without a single pleat out of their way,”. 

Just one question here- has he tried it himself? If not, how can he imply that it’s not that much of an effort? And if yes, good for him, he can wear it all he wants but he is in no position to tell us, women, what to do.

He also went further to add that “Indian women are identified with it.” Once again a general sweeping remark reducing the identity of women to what they wear. 

So much of gyaan coming from a person who self-claims that it’s all about preserving the culture. And how is he contributing? By selling a saree for more than 80k? The price of his sarees is the least of our concerns. Telling women what to do is also our culture and Mr. Sabya practices it with utter dedication. 

Okay, so Mr. Mukherjee gets 10/10 for culture maybe but 0/10 for being utterly useless in preserving and promoting the rights of women who literally made his business a ‘brand’.  

There was another incident where Sabya’s sense of marketing went entirely downhill. On the occasion of Women’s Day this year, his brand posted a photo of a dark-plus-sized model. There’s nothing problematic with that, right? Except, that usually, his feed is full of gorgeous super-skinny models and this one time he chooses to post the contrary with a pretentious caption about confidence, subtly implying that fat people need confidence. 

Talk about exploiting insecurities of women on the special occasion of women’s day, eh?  (Well, he did give me fodder to improve on my sarcasm skills, so let’s give him one mark?) 

The real troublesome part isn’t him making these deeply problematic statements about women and beauty standards, but it is that despite all this, his brand is still regarded as the gold standard of what an Indian bride should look like, making him the undisputed king of the industry. Perhaps, that is also the reason why time and again, he has been able to make these offensive, ungracious comments about what women should look like, and get away with it. 

He has got multiple red-cards but his elimination from the game is far (as far as Pluto from Earth) from the scene. We, as young women continue to adore his brand, consciously or unconsciously. Not only us ‘commoners’ but even the leading faces of Bollywood, which very much influence everything in the country, also adore him. Many of them happily accept that if they ever get married, it would be in a ‘Sabyasachi’.

Isn’t it time already to show these men that patriarchy is no more in trend? And that feminism is not just a fad?

If you think I missed his apology, I didn’t. I am coming to that. Mr. Mukherjee did make an apology for his latest blunder as the entire situation blew out of proportion and he was trolled badly on different platforms. But, we have two points to make here. 

First, it was hardly an apology. It is evident that the man found nothing wrong with what he said. Instead, he claimed that his intentions were not accurately received by the audience. Also, it was just a move to save his brand name. By no means could we gather that he was actually guilty about his post or thinking in general. 

Most importantly, let’s don’t forget that it wasn’t the first time he made such a remark. An apology is a statement which implies that the incident won’t be repeated. But we all are witness to his consistent hypocrisy.

I feel it is time for Sabyasachi Mukherjee to hire a better marketing team. It will, at least, help him bring in some much-needed metamorphosis in his business because, bringing change in his mindset sure looks like a difficult task now. 

Sabina Yeasmin

Monthly Contributor at Moderne
After living in a concrete jungle for more than two decades of her life, Sabina found solitude as she moved to the greener side of the grass, pretty literally. Apart from enjoying all things literature, she loves to write on diverse issues, cook good food, and tend her teeny-tiny garden.

Sabina was raised as a feminist, believes the world needs a little more love and also some rationality to see an unbiased image of the society. She is a magnet to anxiety but her faith keeps her going. Oh, also, she is a proud Hijabi Muslimah and repels judgemental people.
Sabina Yeasmin
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Sabina Yeasmin

After living in a concrete jungle for more than two decades of her life, Sabina found solitude as she moved to the greener side of the grass, pretty literally. Apart from enjoying all things literature, she loves to write on diverse issues, cook good food, and tend her teeny-tiny garden.

Sabina was raised as a feminist, believes the world needs a little more love and also some rationality to see an unbiased image of the society. She is a magnet to anxiety but her faith keeps her going. Oh, also, she is a proud Hijabi Muslimah and repels judgemental people.

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