10 Minutes With: Sachin & Babi and Sara Mearns
October 3, 2016
The presentation of the Sachin & Babi Spring 2017 collection unites two of the world’s most loved art forms—fashion and ballet—that have such a natural creative link. Every year, designers Sachin and Babi Ahluwalia take their daughters to the ballet, which served as their inspiration for the Spring 2017 collection.
The element of ballet was not only incorporated into the designs but also flowed forward in the presentation. Ballerinas modeled the elegant, graceful dresses—gliding through the show to demonstrate the movement of the designs. For this presentation, the designers joined forces with Sara Mearns, a principal dancer for the New York City Ballet.
We enjoyed a tête-à-tête with the design duo and the ballerina to ask them about this highly anticipated collection and performance.
Neiman Marcus: What an amazing collaboration between two different art forms—luxury design and ballet. How did this collaboration come to life?
Sachin Ahluwalia: We started designing this season by looking at images of ballet dancers in motion and were fascinated by the composition of grace and strength and how these two complement each other. As a married couple who design together, we see the same interplay between the two of us—there is always a push and pull. We connected with principal dancer Sara Mearns about collaborating with us for our Spring 2017 presentation. We had designed each look with motion in mind and wanted to ensure the garments’ details, which can only be seen while in motion, were displayed properly. We worked with dancers from Ballet Beautiful to model the collection, and Sara Mearns helped to choreograph their movements.
Sara Mearns: Sachin and Babi reached out to New York City Ballet to find me. We had a meeting, and I immediately understood what they wanted. We worked with professional dancers—which really complemented the quality of movement.
NM: What makes this partnership so successful? What have you all learned from each other from an artistic point of view?
Babi Ahluwalia: We’ve learned that ballerinas are athletes at the highest level—they have so much strength but their grace hides it—we found this to be very powerful. We also learned how subtle posture movements can influence a look. For instance, Sara taught us that when you walk leading with your left foot, you automatically appear taller.
SM: My dream one day is to collaborate on a line of gowns, and this experience really opened my eyes to where and how designers find their inspiration. All three of us are passionate about redefining what a successful, confident woman looks like while still having grace. While wearing them, I am in awe of the detail, movement, and ease that these dresses possess.
NM: Sara, you work with ballet dancers on a daily basis. Do you believe there are any similarities between ballet dancers and models? What can the two learn from one another?
SM: Both are beautiful and magical in their own right. I have worked as both a model and ballerina, and I comprehend the difference. Models and ballerinas have different ways at going about their jobs, but what they have in common is that they have the same initial job of showing off another individual’s work. As a ballerina, we are allowed to incorporate our own feeling, emotion, and artistry into the choreography.
NM: What were the biggest challenges and rewards when executing the Spring 2017 presentation in regard to using ballet dancers as well as fashion models?
SA: The biggest challenge was to find an equal harmony between the models and the dancers. The first time Sara worked with the dancers was the morning of the presentation. The biggest reward was seeing the collection come to life through the dancers and seeing the details in motion. It exceeded our expectations.
SM: The biggest challenge I faced keeping the movements simple and small since I didn’t want the dancers to slip. They used the space as their own, and the dresses were very easy to move in.
NM: Sara, if you were to compare the Sachin & Babi Spring 2017 collection to a famous ballet, which would it be?
SM: This is hard question! I will say Balanchine’s Serenade. The costumes in this ballet are beautiful, light blue tulle circle skirts that touch the floor, and the movement is absolutely breathtaking. The skirts float through the air and are the most comfortable, form-fitting costumes I’ve worn on stage. You feel like you can do anything and be whoever you want to be in them—and that is exactly how I felt in the Sachin & Babi Spring 2017 collection.
NM: What colors are going to be in style for spring, and what can you tell us about the color palette of the Sachin & Babi Spring 2017 collection?
SA: The color palette was very soft this season. Think blush pinks, marigold, and ivory.
NM: What trends would you like to see come back into fashion?
BA: Nowadays trends seem like a thing of the past. You can find different styles of clothing in any store during any season. From sporty to romantic—all styles are offered year-round.
SM: I hope to see more sleekness in the upcoming trends!
NM: What is your favorite aspect about your respective careers?
SA: The imagination and creative part of visualizing. Starting with beautiful elements—from embroidery to fabrics and silhouettes.
SM: I get to dress up and be a different “me” every night. I am a shy girl during the day, but I become something completely different at night. Only the stage and music can bring that out of me.