Rohitava Banerjee made his New York Fashion Week debut back in February, but unlike the rest of the designers with solo runway shows, he was still a student at the time.
After his debut show, Banerjee caught the attention of publications like the New York Post, which dubbed him a wunderkind designer, and Source Journal, which called him the next Alexander McQueen. Come September, Banerjee will be back at NYFW on the Nolcha Shows roster to present his spring/summer 2017 collection.
In anticipation of his upcoming show, we recently chatted with Banerjee about his decision to show at NYFW while still studying at Parsons, the inspiration for his SS17 collection and much more. Keep reading for the full interview.
1. What inspired you to launch your label?
"I wanted to dress women who are truly strong in their sense of self, women that understand that they have the capacity to do anything they aspire to and have the determination to do it. I want women to see that strong sense of self and their unique individual strength radiating through from my garments."
2. What was it like making your NYFW debut while still in school? What gave you the confidence to make that move?
"It was a wonderful learning experience. If I could put the first season into one word it would be educational. I felt confident in what my brand had to say about the power and strength of femininity, and I still believe in that message very much today."
3. What's the biggest lesson you learned from your debut show?
"The most pivotal thing I learned from my last show is the importance of proper press coverage. Last season, I received a small amount of attention, and that helped open some doors and will hopefully continue to attract others to come take a look, and that in itself opens up the possibility to become more publicized in the future. Right now, my brand is at a place where I have a lot to say with my work, and if the label can get the right kind of attention this season, I sincerely believe more people will start listening."
4. How would you describe the aesthetic of your brand?
"I would describe my aesthetic as being armorial in many ways. The garments have silhouettes that exude strength and confidence, and they're meant to really make the wearer tap into the power that they already have within themselves."
5. What was the hardest part about launching your own label?
"The biggest challenge so far has been retail reception, stylist reception and editorial reception. I know that this can take time, but I would love to have more people come and see my work and share their opinions. I want people to be talking about my work, and I know that if the right people were starting to see the things I create, I am confident there would be conversation about what I'm doing."
6. Tell us about your SS17 collection and its inspiration?
"The spring/summer 2017 collection is inspired by the five most influential sultans of the early Ottoman Empire. Through detailed embroidery with symbolic motifs from the tenures of each sultan, each section tells the story of their most notable acts. The silhouettes throughout the collection are inspired by early Ottoman armor and weaponry, as these Sultans were not only rulers of vast expanses of land but they were also warlords who forged an empire through conquest. Specifically, the curves and points of the scimitar sword were a heavy influence on the lines on all of the silhouettes this season. The color palette chosen for this collection has it's own narrative as well. Each of the five sections is representative of a different time of day in reference to the sky and represents the transition from daybreak (origins of empire) to midnight (the zenit or Golden Age of the Empire)."
7. Who are some designers you look up to?
"Alexander McQueen is a designer who continues to inspire me to this day. The ideas he had about strength and power in a silhouette are truly breathtaking and are still extremely relevant to the modern woman."
8. What made you want to be part of Nolcha Shows?
"They give a very unique platform to designers who need one. I have seen very few people with the same level of commitment I see from Nolcha in making sure someone's work gets shown and that the designer gets recognition for it. They present an opportunity for up-and-coming designers to make something of themselves and to show people who they really are and say what they desperately want to say through their work."