Raw Mango’s new collection is an ode to an 1800s Urdu opera

From the presentation of his designs on the red carpet at the 94th Academy Awards, to the launch of Raw Mango Malligai in Chennai, an upcoming store in Hyderabad and his new Peacock Country collection, this year has been a milestone for the designer. Sanjay Garg. He talks to vogue on how an 1800s love story inspired his line and why movies are a powerful way to tell stories.

Garg’s passion for the theater is evident in his portrayal of Peacock Country. “Everything in the collection is so theatrical and ornamental in nature – that’s basically what denotes Indian royalty. By royalty I’m referring to the color palette, the craftsmanship, the fabrics, the element of ” costumes” – there is real drama. We have had dramatic influences in the past that were more surreal in nature, but this one is very theatrical. I was inspired by my own experiences with theater in my village. There was a large common area that acted as a stage. We would stay there for a fortnight and practice as artists. That’s when my passion for theater began and eventually found its way into my creations.

Peacock Country is inspired by Inder Sabha, an Urdu play and opera written by poet Agha Hasan Amanat, which was first staged in 1853. The story, which takes place in the courtyard celestial of Indra, the king of the gods, speaks of the love that blossoms between a prince and a fairy. “It’s a very beautiful story in which the poet has constructed a fantasy of the meeting of two cultures. It is the culmination of two worlds – of Hinduism and Islam, of undying love that transcends time and geographical distance – and this is reflected throughout the collection with specific influences from the region of ‘Awadh.

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