Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee
Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee Image Credit: Clint Egbert


Following the legal notice, designer Sabyasachi has withdrawn his controversial ad campaign. "In the context of making heritage and culture a dynamic conversation, the Mangalsutra campaign aimed to talk about inclusivity and empowerment. The campaign was intended as a celebration and we are deeply saddened that it has instead offended a section of our society. So we at Sabyasachi have decided to withdraw the campaign," the company said in a statement.


Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee has been slapped with a legal notice on October 30 for an advertisement promoting his new mangalsutra jewellery collection claiming it ‘hurts religious sentiments’.

According to a report by NDTV, advocate Ashutosh Dubey, legal advisor of the Bharatiya Janata Party-Maharashtra Palghar district, stated in his notice that the designer’s decision to employ scantily clad models to promote his mangalsutra collection was hurting the Hindu community.

Traditionally, the black-beaded chain is worn by Hindu women when they get married.

Sabyasachi Mukherjee was in Dubai earlier this month
Sabyasachi Mukherjee was in Dubai earlier this month Image Credit: Clint Egbert

In his notice, Dubey has demanded that the advertisement be withdrawn within two weeks while stressing that it is an outrageous way to promote something as sacred as the mangalsutra. The outrage is directed at one of the images alone, while the rest of  Mukherjee's campaign features women in traditional sari and blouse.

“I say that in your promotional social media posts featuring models posing solo or in intimate positions with others. In one picture, a female model is seen wearing a black brassiere and Sabyasachi’s mangalsutra as her head rests on a shirtless male model is totally outrageous to the entire Hindu community as well as Hindu Marriage,” read Dubey’s notice.

In the notice he also gave a lowdown on the significance of the mangalsutra. “The word mangal means auspicious and sutra means thread — together mangalsutra means an auspicious thread uniting the souls and the groom ties the auspicious thread around the bride’s neck on the day of their holy nuptial as the significance that their relationship would be as auspicious as the thread. It symbolises that they will be mates for life until death separates them and you are exhibiting the “Mangalsutra” in an obscene way is outrageous and baseless,” he added.

He also sought an apology from Mukherjee, who has dressed up Bollywood celebrity brides such as Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma in the past.

Sabyasachi Mukherjee dressed up Anushka Sharma's bridal trousseau

The designer, who recently collaborated with Swedish retail giant H&M with his collection ‘Wanderlust’ which flew off the shelves within minutes, has not responded to the latest criticism on his social media accounts yet. In the past, he has often responded to criticism on his Instagram page.

Sabyasachi's collection Wanderlust for H&M
Sabyasachi's collection Wanderlust for H&M Image Credit: Instagram/Sabyasachi

However, before this mangalsutra advertisement controversy erupted, Gulf News had an in-depth interview with Sabyasachi in Dubai earlier this month.

While he wasn’t referring to this episode, the designer spoke about his philosophy when it came to handling criticisms in his line of work.

“I am my biggest critic. If I think I have done something wrong, I will make sure that I do everything to set it right. But at the end of the day, everybody has an opinion and they have the right to say what they have to say. As a brand, for instance, if you go to my Instagram you will see that a lot of people shame and abuse us, and a lot of people say great things about us. We don’t delete any comments,” Mukherjee told Gulf News.

He also stressed that as a designer he was a great advocate for democracy of ideas and thoughts.

“It’s important for people to look at my brand holistically — the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I keep saying this to a lot of young people who work in my company. They get easily disappointed because they don’t have my level maturity ... I tell them that when you become a brand, it’s very important for you to understand that some people are going to like you and some people are not going to like you, but it’s very important for you to like yourself,” said Sabyasachi.

Katrina Kaif
Katrina Kaif in Sabyasachi Mukherjee creation

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It’s not the first time that an Indian designer or a fashion brand has invited flak and censure.

Recently, Dabur India Limited withdrew an advertisement featuring a same-sex couple celebrating the Hindu festival of Karwa Chauth, hours after Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra criticised it for showing “objectionable content”.

Clothing brand FabIndia also withdrew an advertisement after they called their latest Diwali collection ‘Jashn-e-Riwaaz’, resulting in a section of Indians claiming that it hurt Hindu sentiments.