The dandy Mr Modi: PM's fashion designer is all western, no swadeshi

Sometime in August 2012, then PM-aspirant Narendra Modi held a Google Hangout. Of the many questions he answered from fawning fans, there were some that sounded straight out of a Page 3 supplement. What diet does he follow? What's his style mantra?

The answers, however, were completely in line with the modest chaiwallah-turned-neta image that Modi fronted on the campaign trail. He lives on khichdi and that famous 'Modi kurta'? He just had the sleeves hacked off for convenience. Obviously, not a man who spends too much thought and effort on his wardrobe, you'd say.

Cut to July 2014. Prime Minister Modi landed in Brazil and was snapped at the airport wearing loose snuff-coloured silk pants, an untucked formal shirt, together with a cream scarf. Though some fashion pundits slammed it, the new look was a refreshing change from Modi's carefully put-together but bland style. He was then spotted at various Brics meetings in impeccably tailored bandhgalas with well-fitted pants.

Narendra Modi in a bandhgala. AFP.

Narendra Modi in a bandhgala. AFP.

Now we are told that the PM has hired Mumbai-based designer Troy Costa to style his wardrobe for his upcoming US trip in September.

Costa, according to reports, has dressed the Ambanis and the big Khans of Bollywood. He has a signature store in Khar, Mumbai which Time Out Mumbai says, has the potential to make an 'average chap dress like a jet-setting A-lister'.

A profile of the designer on the Fashion TV website reveals that he specialises in Western formals and experiments with traditional silhouettes to make boring formals look funky. So say, he'll team a hoodie with a formal jacket and shirt to give dinner formals a nice young twist.

However, one thing that Costa probably has in common with our Prime Minister is how finicky both are about sartorial details. Bipin Chauhan, the owner of Jade Blue, which stitches Modi's kurtas had told The Economic Times in an earlier interview, "Modi takes keen interest in his clothes right from selecting the fabric, the cut, the stitch, to the overall look."

The report adds, "On a recent visit to the CM's office, Chauhan was surprised when he suggested him to make the 'churidaar' (pants worn with a kurta) more comfortable by using hosiery fabric, instead of the regular cotton cloth. Of late, he has used a lot of silk from Bhagalpur for making the bright jackets. Modi gets a lot of material/fabric as gift from people who know his love for garments. Modi selects and gets them stitched."

Troy Costa. Image courtesy: Facebook profile.

Troy Costa. Image courtesy: Facebook profile.

Costa too is no less particular, observes this Time Out article. "Another reason why Costa’s designs stand out are because of the fabrics he handpicks. They are manufactured at a design unit in Italy and often go through a series of treatments such as quilting, lacquering, smoking, flocking and even Duco painting before they are stitched."

Unlike most other menswear designers in India, Costa specialises only in Western wear. In an interview to Vogue, Costa said, "I come from a Catholic background - my mom is Portuguese my dad is Goan and we’ve always been brought up in Bombay. So the western influences remain. Also, I want to stick to what I am good at, I don’t want to do everything.

However, no one can claim Modi is 'splurging' on his western-wear wardrobe. The Time Out article notes that Costa's shirts are priced between Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 and jackets are priced between Rs 15,000 to Rs, 18,000. Now, that costs less than even that ever-present minaudiere that the ladies of Lodhi gardens flaunt at parties.

While, Modi may have chosen to stick to Hindi while speaking to foreign leaders, his choice of wardrobe, however, doesn't seem to share the swadeshi hangover.

Updated Date: Jul 21, 2014 13:38 PM

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