In Conversation With Rohit Bal, Delhi’s Flashiest Designer
Shooting orders, Rohit Bal sits in his peach and cream office looking every bit the debauched cherub. He is casual and relaxed in a ribbed white tee shirt, canary yellow clam diggers, white slides on his feet, his hair freshly tousled in its characteristic blonde streaks. He munches on a bag of oil-free popcorn bought from a curbside vendor. Here he shoots the breeze with Nikhil Khanna of Friday Corporation, but refuses to acknowledge Sandip Khosla and claims to identify with Alexander the Great.
So, how old is Goldilocks?
Thirty-eight going on thirty-nine. But I could be thirty-five. Or twenty-five. Does it matter? I am Peter Pan.
Have you considered nips and tucks now that age is catching up? And it is catching up.
No! I am growing old fairly well. I look at myself and don’t think I really need a nip or a nick or a tuck for that matter. One just has to be happy with oneself, that’s all.
But you have heard the saying, ‘Men grow cold, as girls grow old’?
Men grow horny as they grow old, so girls need not worry.
Diana Vreeland once said, “A little vulgarity brings spice to life.” Do you agree?
Absolutely. The word vulgar, however, is so relative. You want me to be witty here, or do you want me to pontificate? I think life would suck without vulgarity. It’s a healthy, basic instinct and I don’t equate it with scratching the privates, so try not getting me wrong here. It exists in everyone, and it takes a particular confidence to wallow in the stuff. The people who don’t are chicken. Keep a fine line between the sophisticated and the downright hideous, and everything will be just fine.
How important is drama in your life?
I don’t know how important it is in my life, but it certainly exists. In my profession drama is really half the job! The important thing is to be able to sustain it over time. Feather boas, tantrums and martinis are not drama. Instead, it’s about doing something different, something twisted even. What’s drama to others is very cool stuff to me.
You work your little assistants to death and then steal all their ideas. True or vicious rumor?
A vicious rumor—and one I haven’t heard before! And no, it’s not the other way round either. It’s a simple, logical exchange of ideas when you are working with each other. We have arguments and one keeps in mind the different points of view. Most designers are very protective of their assistants—keeping them away from the limelight and grabbing it for themselves instead. I believe in the opposite game and I can successfully say like a proud hen, that I have out there, many successful designers who have interned with me and moved on to bigger things. Whoever suggested I am a slave driver is obviously retarded. Probably came from someone else’s assistant designer!
What’s drama to others is very cool stuff to me.
What do you sleep in? Rumors are a leopard skin thong.
God, my life’s filled with rumors! Where did you get this (bleep) ing nonsense from? No, I mostly sleep in just mostly nothing at all.
Do you have a sex life?
A fairly active one.
Violence, Bal and Sandip Khosla. What sort of combination does that make?
I don’t think there is a combination here.
Current bedside reading.
Ice by Su Tong.
Yes, and you’ve been reading that for several months!
Yeah, I don’t get the time, and it’s a really long book! Plus I watch too much television.
What’s your current state of mind?
If you were to come back as someone, someplace—what would it be?
I would love to be reborn as Alexander the Great. And don’t ask me why because I won’t allow you to print those reasons.
How difficult has the actual creative process been?
Not difficult at all. I’m just a born genius. I can do what I want to do pretty damn quickly, and I am grateful to God for that. It’s a gift and I don’t worry about creating. I worry about execution. Fortunately, I have a great team.
Upper class tailor or genuine design source?
I think genuine design source in some, middle class tailor in some, tailors in some but all moving to the right direction.
I would love to be reborn as Alexander the Great.
Deserted on an island, what would you want around you?
Great food, nice alcohol, a TV, people I can have sex with. In fact the island should become the sex capital of the world and once that happens I won’t need anything else, will I? Oh, and perfect health. And a lady to do the washing, a music system, a library and a couple of clubs. And gay bars, because they are cool.
What quality do you admire in a woman?
Largeness of heart.
And in a man?
This article was first published in the January 2001 issue.