Dressing The History

Kolkata couturier Amalin Datta’s new collection Clad in Clay infuses dressing styles from around the world into his sculptures

Playing with clay and dressing up are two most favourite things of every child. Growing up, Amalin Datta was no exception. But he had parents who showed him how clay and clothes can be more than just playthings – they could be turned into beauties to behold.

Brought up in a family where fashion and art meet so effortlessly, Amalin’s father Alokemoy Datta is renowned for his sculptures, murals and clay pottery. On the other hand, his mother Sharbari Datta is an ace fashion designer based out of Kolkata. No wonder the unveiling of his art-cum-fashion installation titled Clad in Clay on August 1, 2018, quickly became the talk of the town. “I was always fascinated and inspired by my parents,” says Amalin. “It was easy for me as a child to take to clay, but I was formally trained in fashion and style under the watchful eye of my mother at Sharbari Studio.” The young lad was always expressing his creativity through both sculptures and fashion. Clad in Clay, for instance, showcases his twin passions as he infuses dressing styles from around the world into his sculptures. “World history and cultural heritage have always attracted me, especially the attires of different cultures,” he says. “I couldn’t present these through my clothes, considering market demands and acceptability. It’s difficult to do this kind of experimentation in garments; one has to keep commercial viability in mind. Therefore, I thought of presenting them in the form of these sculptures where I could let my imagination run free.” The star-studded event attended by Kolkata chatterati, including celebrities like Rituparna Sengupta and Mir Afsar Ali, started on a positive note with Amalin showcasing ten sculptures. The inspirations for these creations range from Sinhalese traditional angarakha to Chinese teracotta army, Shanghai monastery costumes to clothes worn by pirates of the Caribbean, a sculpture inspired by Mayan civilization, while another by Victorian gowns and yet another by costumes of the British Lords and so on. The materials used are China clay primarily, with which he has combined clay from Birbhum and sand, and embellished them with fittings in wood, metal, fabrics and cowrie shells.

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This is a great example of how art museums can engage with the 99% (and potentially get gov't funding for their work) while rejecting a 1% mindset. Museums are places of healing, community, and many other things. Not just rich people's baubles. https://t.co/DmbwwVkM6a

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