A dress shoulder protruding from the bodily shoulder has been a kind of signature of the Indian designer Gaurav Gupta… until now
GG vs CC: Which came first? (Left) Chrishell Stause in Gaurav Gupta. Photo: Chrishell Stause/Twitter. (Right) Model in a Carol Chen Couture dress. Photo: Chin Boh Kay for SOTD
During a recent broadcast of the season 5 reunion of the American reality TV series Selling Sunset, cast member and fashion queen of the show Chrishell Stause turned up for her chat with host Tan France in a stunner of a dress. The chilli-red, one-shoulder, one-slit, floor-length goddess silhouette in pleated organza has a distinctive shoulder. It does not sit on the top of the body, but protrudes to eye-level in an arc that looked like one side of a bow. The gown is by the Delhi-based Indian couturier and Central Saint Martin alum, Gaurav Gupta, known for his sumptuous lehengas (the full-length skirts that Indian women wear on formal and ceremonial occasions, as did Carrie Bradshaw), saris, and—just as exquisitely—gowns that are as popular among Indian women as those from abroad.
Two days ago, at the newly renovated Design Orchard, a long dress with a similar shoulder treatment was shown. But rather than a single alary projection, the number came with two. The fabric used was also pleated organza, but unlike Mr Gupta’s truly sculptural design, these extended shoulders were not build on a bodice. Rather, it was the bodice itself: two oblongs bunched at the shoulder where the protuberances opened like arched springs, and creating a matronly bustiness at the chest. The gown is by the Singapore-based American couturier, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (San Francisco) alum and Singapore’s brightest design star Carol Chen, a recent practitioner of the craft of high fashion, whose confections are adored by her socialite friends.
Close up of the sculptured shoulder of Gaurav Gupta. Photo: Gaurav Gupta
Mr Gupta sometimes calls his sculptural shapes “mathematical forms”. It is no exaggeration, even if the constructions are, as considerable calculations are required to effect such a precise extension that shifts the natural line of the shoulders so dramatically. His designs have been described by women as “romantic” although Mr Gupta has referred to them as “abstract”. His clothes are so breathtakingly suitable for red-carpet events that they have been worn by international celebrities such as Megan Thee Stallion at the Academy Awards this past March and, at the recent Cannes Film Festival, Indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, the Italian actress Catrinel Marlon, Indonesian actress Raline Shah, and the American actress Liza Koshy, not to mention Cardi B in the music video No Love.
Ms Chen has described her debut couture collection as “one of the most incredible experiences of my life“. Apart from her muse and her mentor, it is not known who has worn Carol Chen Couture. It is impossible to trace a direct line to the provenance of her ideas for her dresses or from which pool of inspiration she draws. The collection, of which two looks made the runway at Design Orchard, is called Florescence (the state of an object in bloom) and is supposed to be “inspired by Gardens by the Bay”. Yet, it is hard not to chart her aesthetical choices—the shoulders, especially—to India. Ms Chen, a former beauty queen, is no doubt partial to gowns. And it is understandable she would be entranced by the designs of an experienced couture master. In the end, CC or GG, we’re sure you can see the art from the not for yourself.