It takes one visit to Bose Krishnamachari’s home, in the Mumbai suburb of Borivili, to establish that the man’s personal space and wardrobe are filled with as much colour as his paintings.
Starting with the abstract on the door as you enter the house, to the colour overload (orange and metallic silver walls, a Vibgyor wall clock, a fluorescent green chair) and the big flat-screen TV hanging from the ceiling in the centre of the drawing room, there’s no mistaking the artist’s eye.
And there’s no mistaking the artist in a metallic print T-shirt, paint-spattered trousers, glasses with oval, purple frames and green footwear.
Besides colour, Krishnamachari is passionate about scarves and watches, and books—he has a collection of more than 5,000 books. If his wardrobe looks sparse for someone who loves fashion, it’s because he believes in quality over quantity (he hasn’t made a street-side purchase since he was in college). Edited excerpts:
Despite your love for fashion, you must be one of the few who dress their worst while at work.
(Laughs) Well, yes. Anyone seeing me in my studio, in my old trousers and shirt stained with paint, must think I’m in dire need of their loose change. But these clothes never start out so shabby. They are some of the best clothes I own, but once I start painting I don’t realize where the paint ends up besides the canvas.
Your work also includes going to exhibitions and meetings with curators and gallery owners. What is your personal style for those occasions?
The most important thing is to feel your best and it makes all the difference to your confidence. My style is about balancing two extremes—the minimalistic with the eye-catching. For me, accessories should be bold and extreme, and colour predominant. I would pair a classic single-tone shirt with jeans and a pair of bright shoes, patterned socks and a striking watch. I would tie a coloured scarf around my neck. I sometimes add textured or printed jackets to the ensemble. One has to have a sense of style that’s just one’s own.
Krishnamachari sometimes wears a mundu while relaxing at home. (Photograph: Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint)
What kind of accessories do you like?
I have a pretty good collection of watches, about 20 I think. I look for funky frames for my glasses. Scarves can add colour to a basic outfit and break the monotony. I started wearing them abroad because of the weather, but now they have become a style statement. But I don’t go into a store looking for something in particular. I just buy what catches my eye, whether it’s a watch or a shirt.
How often do you shop and where from?
I always travel light, so that I can buy stuff anywhere I go. I visit designer stores whenever I’m abroad. But my favourite places to shop are museum stores where I’ve found some of the best jewellery and watches.
I have a lot of clothes by the Japanese fashion label Comme des Garcons. I would wear Manish Arora all the time if he were doing menswear. In Mumbai, Muse, Courtyard and Bombay Electric are the places I shop. I love designers such as Versace and Alexander McQueen who have had associations with artists. It shows in their creations. Paul Smith and Pierre Hardy are also favourites. An acquisition by Viktor and Rolf is next on my wish list.
But shopping is so expensive. I always think someone can buy a painting of mine at these prices (laughs).
Any skeletons in your closet?
None at all. I wear everything I own. But I’m not fond of formal wear, to the extent that I don’t attend parties where the dress code is strictly formal. I own about four suits, one of which I bought for my wedding. I have to keep in mind that I’m a short person. I wear jackets when I’m abroad, but that’s mainly because of the weather.
Wrist action: If it catches his eye, it’s in the box. (Photograph: Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint)
How important was fashion and style while growing up?
I grew up in Kerala imitating the filmi fashion of those times—very flashy. I was quite crazy actually and would even wear payals (anklets) to college. My sense of style has essentially remained the same, I can just afford better stuff now.
When I moved to Mumbai to study at the Sir JJ institute, I realized the other students held this stereotype of fine arts students. They expected us to be dressed in typical kurtas with jholas. I personally hated that stereotype and made a conscious decision to do just the opposite. As soon as I was making some money, I started buying brands such as United Colors of Benetton and Levi’s, which were quite big then.
Since you love fashion, any plans to have your designs on clothes?
I would love to have my own brand some day. In fact, as a teenager, I designed a pair of shoes for myself at my father’s furniture shop—leather and wood shoes that were really heavy, but I would still wear them to weddings (laughs).