Acclaimed fashion designer Sharbari Datta found dead at her residence in Kolkata

Published : September 18, 2020 15:03 IST

Sharbari Datta Photo: DEBASISH BHADURI

The fashion industry and the world of entertainment are in a state of shock at the news of the sudden death of acclaimed fashion designer Sharbari Datta. Sharbari, who was in her 70s, was found dead at her residence in south Kolkata late in the night of September 17. Her body was discovered in her bathroom, and according to some reports there were traces of blood in her face and ankles. Though preliminary investigations suggest the cause of death to be either a stroke or a heart attack, the police have nevertheless registered a case of unnatural death. Her son Amalin Datta claimed to have last seen her on September 16, and she was reportedly not reachable by phone throughout the next day.

Sharbari burst on the fashion scene in the early 1990s with her path-breaking designs for menswear. At a time when men’s fashion had not caught on in India, Sharbari carved out a new path for herself with her work. She saw herself as a “fashion revivalist” who felt that adherence to the dress code of the West had led to the stagnation of men’s fashion in India. “I pitied men their dull wardrobes. The West has enslaved us to notions of masculine dress codes which, we forget, have only a short history, dating after the Industrial Revolution,” she had said. Sharbari is believed to have been one of the instrumental figures in reviving ethnic designs in men’s clothing in the country. Her brand ‘Shunya Sharbari Datta’, is one of the most well-known fashion brands in India.

Her list of patrons and clients were widespread and from different fields. They included sports icons like Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Leander Paes, Bhaichung Bhutiya, Pakistan Prime Minister and former cricket legend Imran Khan; movie stars like Amitabh Bachchan, John Abraham, Bengali matinee idol Prasenjit, director Rituparno Ghosh; and artistes like M.F. Husain, Manjit Bawa, Bikash Bhattacharjee and Ganesh Pyne. She had once said that the fact that great artistes appreciated her designs was her biggest sense of achievement.

Daughter of the great Bengali poet Ajit Dutta, Sharbari grew up in an atmosphere of art and literature. After graduating from Presidency College she got a Master's Degree in Philosophy from Calcutta University, but her primary interest lay in the field of arts. In her younger days she was active in performing arts, particularly dance dramas.

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