Twenty Five Years Young

He may be celebrating his silver jubilee, but Suneet Varma remains young at heart and in his art.

A silver jubilee of anything is a long time these days. More so when you consider designer Suneet Varma is celebrating his this year, when much of the organised Indian fashion — as we know it — is arguably around 20 years old (Ensemble, the country's oldest multi-designer boutique, celebrates two decades next month).

But Varma wakes up in the morning and has a glass of the elixir of youth. One look at his pictures and you could swear he's at least a decade younger. He's achingly handsome — fit and toned, a thick mop of gel-swept black hair and chronic dimples. He's always impeccably turned out, well dressed and polished in his manners. He is always surrounded by the most beautiful women and men in the room. He will be 50 years old soon.

Varma's clothes are so much like the maker himself. One foot is steeped in the excesses of couture, the other in the impossible chic of youth. Along with Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Bal and JJ Valaya, Varma forms the golden quad of the Indian couturiers.

Varma was born to be a sculptor, something he moved to London from New Delhi to learn. His clothes are less fashion, more installation. He is a true costumier in that. One only needs to remind oneself of Mehr Jessia's golden breastplate from 1991, Varma's nod to Botticelli's Birth of Venus that hangs at Florence's Uffizi museum, to understand.

This year belongs to Varma; he presented two stunning couture shows in 2012. He announced his association with Armani Junior. He will also be designing the interiors of the BMW 7 series and a luxury boutique hotel. And he is bringing out a book, authored by the new editor of Harper's Bazaar, Nishat Fatima. All of this goes on top of his design partnership with the Judith Lieber label, a marriage between an object and Swarovski crystals that is sometimes called a purse.

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