Sharbari Datta is the daughter of celebrated Bengali poet Ajit Datta, known for his literary innovations in the post-Rabindranath era. She grew up to the rhythms of poetry on the one hand and dance and music on the other, imbibing the essence of culture deeply.
Sharbari shone at singing and dancing and hence often found herself in the lead role of dance dramas in her student days. Academics took up a lot of her time-she did her graduation from Presidency College and took her Master's Degree in Philosophy from Calcutta University. Yet, arts remained an enduring love.
It was a bleak world of stripes and checks that Sharbari gate crashed into. A drab world, where the most daring sartorial adventure man could imagine was silk tie that has, over the years, managed to shift from diagonal bands to paisleys and floral motifs. Or a dhoti with a border and a kurta with modest embroidery at the neck and shoulders.
No wonder Sharbari’s men’s wear thundered into the fashion landscape. It was like an irresistible gust of wind that blows away age-old notions of can and can’t and left everybody breathless. Older men did a double take, trapped in their inhibitions. But the younger ones, mindful of the mirror and the new glint in the eyes of their woman, took to Sharbari with zeal of the new convert. They were followed by the older generations; who were slower to shed conventions but have been no less steady in their patronage of Sharbari’s.
We speak of zeal and converts though, of course, Sharbari’s isn’t a religion, only a much talked-about designer label and Sharbari in no high priestess but only the woman designer exploring the distinctive line of men’s wear. However, she has always a philosophy of fashion.
“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.”
It has done something else, too. It had tutored Indian men to turn away from their own rich dress heritage. Indian’s, both men and women, were fond of dressing up, “from Mohenjodaro to the Mughals“ she says, and never tires of pointing out that sartorial flair wasn’t confined to aristocratic finery, Sherwani, Angrakha, Piran, Bandhgala, Kurtas…
The ingenious weaves and colours and cuts of folk costumes offer breathtaking variety, too.
Sharbari believes fashion trends move both in a linear direction and in a circular manner, earlier codes get resurrected as new long after they died out. The elaborate styles of a bygone age of leisure and pleasure are coming back with a vengeance. As a woman, Sharbari welcomes the changes of tastes. After all, women have eyes, too. As a designer she should feel a sense of satisfaction, for isn’t she more than a little responsible for this new awareness about the new look of menswear? She’s been able to do what she wanted.

Sharbari’s creation truly exclusive : the designer draws directly on cloth, impromptu, without prelims, preserving no copy for afterwards, so that repetition is impossible. Her specially trained seamsters then weave her freehand strokes into intricate embroidery. Her creation is unique because Sharbari’s idiom is an inventive fusion of different art traditions, and evolved into an elegant expression distinctly her own. Cave and folk art; Egyptian mural; calligraphy of West and East Asia; still life; Pop art and Picasso; miniatures; Hindu Mythology are sources of inspiration, not copied, but recalled and re-invented with insouciant artistry so that their traditional identities are not lost in new creations.
As if in natural succession, she ventured into male accessory designing and in a show sponsored by World Gold Council, she showcased her range of exquisite jewellery for men, breaking all pre-defined notions about machismo and redefining the Millennium Man.
To break the myth that ‘Diamonds are a Woman’s best friend’ Sharbari has recently launched a range of diamond accessories for men.
For a woman who has always aspired to give a voice that desire of a man, which has forever been suppressed by the inhibitions inflicted by the society, the journey has just begun.