Blurring the boundaries between art and fashion, 19-year-old Indian American designer Rohitava Banerjee made his big debut recently at New York Fashion Week as part of the Nolcha Shows at ArtBeam, unveiling an Autumn/Winter 2016 collection of luxury women’s wear.

Rife with detailed embroidery and unique silhouettes in a color palette of blue-grays, indigos, foggy reds, and varying shades of ethereal blues, the collection was inspired by both the financial crisis that hit Greece in recent years and the five rivers of the underworld in Greek mythology: Styx, Lethe, Phlegethon, Acheron, and Cocytus,

“The best way to learn really is by doing; by doing that first show I acquired invaluable information for projects,” Banerjee told India-West in an e-mail.

The seeds of creativity were sown early on in the young designer, who is a student at the Parsons School of Design in New York. As a child two things piqued his interest that eventually powered his career in fashion: drawing and love for history and lost civilizations.

“My affinity with fashion started in the year 2012, but my affinity with beauty, art, history, and the contemporary world has been something lifelong,” he said.

Even though he was aware of his artistic abilities, the creativity in him didn’t know which side to turn to. Once his quest for finding his true voice ended, he knew this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

“For many years I was directionless in terms of what to focus my skill set to. It was only through a fashion designer uncle that I was introduced to this world and its wonders four years ago, and I haven’t turned to anything since,” Banerjee told India-West, adding, “I realized how much joy came out of creating through this medium of fashion.”

He admitted that the road wasn’t an easy one and the experience of becoming a fashion designer was an all-consuming one, but he knew that this was the right path to take.

“Fashion, so far, has never been a cause of regret but always a confirmation that I picked my true direction in life,” the young designer stated, adding that fashion was one of the few things that he gives 100 percent of himself to at all times.

Banerjee, whose work continues to reflect his eternal love for history and narrative, uses fashion as a medium to communicate and provide an analysis about the past and present.

The designer, whose goal is to make a specific statement with each design, looks up to designers like John Galliano, Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander McQueen and Sabyasachi. “They all have their own exemplary methods in creating romantic and narrative rich garments that are undeniably timeless,” he noted.

When asked what gave him the confidence to launch his own label at 19 years of age, Banerjee told India-West, “I believe that age is not at all a determining factor when it comes to having the capacity to design. Passion, not age, drives people to create.”

Going forward, the Kolkata native sees himself ceaselessly working to build the brand, and his goal, he said, is to grow and strengthen his aesthetic sense and his design house so that it becomes more prosperous over time.

“The sooner the better,” he said.

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