The Baroque Maharaj

Umang Hutheesing Follows the Sea Trail to Distant Mexico

Baroque Movement, in the History of Art, was an artistic style that used exaggerated motion and simplified details to create the idea of drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur around 1600 in Rome, and spread to most of Europe as well as its occupied colonies. Mexico, which was a Spanish colony, experienced the same wave of Baroque.

Baroque design is all about lines that blend in and forms that incorporate an innate sense of drama in them. To enhance that notion, the Baroque Museum, a very interactive, technology driven space built by Toyo Ito, a famed Japanese architect, follows a circular, free flowing form, without sharp lines or edges.

India and Mexico have been connected since the Imperial era and have exchanged oriental rarities like silk and spices. This trail was explored again in 2016 via air route by India’s most respected costume creator, Umang Hutheesing, who took a collection of Royal Indian costumes to Mexico’s heritage city of Puebla. Invited to present a show titled ‘The Baroque Maharajas’ at the newly opened International Baroque Museum, Umang Hutheesing of the Baroque Design School presented robes and textiles of the Hindu kings and Nawabs. Blending both the distinct iconography of Islamic and Hindu symbols and styles, he traced the rich Baroque trail through the show, which was adapted by regal India in 1900s. The fabled Delhi Darbar was witness to it.

The Maharanis started wearing capes over their rich poshaks, converting their cholis into peplum tops and adding inner layers and flounce to their lehengas, while the Maharajas brought in the ceremonial cape, the short cravat and the sharp gillet to his achkan and bandgala styles. This blend of many worlds, a symbol of Baroque free form and tolerance, became the central theme of Hutheesing’s collection. He understands the necessary intricacies of garment creation and the sensitivity towards the curation of a royal museum collection. For Puebla, he recreated the Maharaja’s connect with the West that began as soon as the British set foot into India, the Spanish and Portuguese started living in Goa and South India and the sea route took them to distant U.K. for studying, shopping and revelry.

Puebla, a city that graciously welcomes various cultures to its folds was stunned with the rich collection as its intelligentsia flocked to see the show. “Mexico is a country that goes to museums with the family, the lover and college mates,” informs Umang Hutheesing. They look for moments that showcase unique history or development at such museums.

On a museum trail through 2015 and 2016, Umang Hutheesing curated an exhibition ‘Magnificent Maharajas: Splendour of Indian Royal Costumes’ for the National Museum of Bahrain. Invited to the country by the royal family, Umang Hutheesing presented luxurious textiles, exquisite costumes and elaborate garments, much of which is the property of the prestigious Hutheesing family.