September 12 2011
I have a confession to make. Up until last week, I was an Indian who had never visited India. So when the opportunity to attend Lakme Fashion Week – Winter/Festive 2011 in Mumbai came up, I jumped at the opportunity to go back to my cultural – and style – roots.
India’s culture, fabrics and textures have been a source of inspiration for countless designers, including two of my favourites, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen (Galliano even sent an orange sari down the runway of one of his Dior shows). Then you have the country’s incredible traditions of workmanship, which rival the petites mains of the couture houses in Paris. You need only look at a Dries Van Noten show to see the intricate and exceptional handiwork of Indian artisans.
While my knowledge of Indian designers has been limited to traditional wear (which, by the way, still outsells Western designs in India), I was surprised to see so many talented designers bringing a new, hip aesthetic to the local fashion scene. These bright young things have studied at schools such as Saint Martins and Parsons and are returning home to reinterpret their new-found knowledge within the context of their own culture while using Indian fabrics and craftsmanship to create relevant designs for the modern woman. It’s something that established designer Sabyasachi has been doing for a while – his poetic show (first picture) was a lesson in restraint with its drab black, olive and khaki jackets, vests and trousers decorated with understated silver embroideries and zardozi.
Here are a few more names to watch out for.
Bodice by Ruchika Sachdeva Saint Martins graduate Sachdeva is hoping to convince every Indian woman to own a tailored blazer from her androgynous line that’s bang on trend this season. Mannish cuts and fabrics appeared on fitted blazers and capes, some of which were printed with tiny bumps made from high-density silicon for a futuristic look. The acrylic and stainless-steel accessories were equally cool.
Deepti Pruthi It was all about technique in this collection of neutral and pastel-coloured dresses, brought to life with textural embroideries – including silk beading and cording – that created a vintage feel. The shapes, however, were super-modern, with plenty of structure, keeping the look clean.
Vizyon Indian women are known for being glamorous, and this line of evening wear proves that. Featuring a series of cocktail and long evening gowns in rich jewel tones, the collection (second picture) was inspired by art deco. A modern touch came in the form of gold leather accents that resembled hammered armour.
Pero The modern boho reigns at Pero, which featured masculine and feminine basics – button-down shirts, loose trousers, jumpsuits, overcoats, trailing scarves – that were layered to perfection. The models looked effortlessly elegant in beautiful Indian cottons and linens in wine, ash, brick and military green. It was probably the most wearable collection of them all, with a truly global appeal (third picture).
Shift This cool line of basics had a touch of Parisian bourgeois chic. Designer Nimish Shah is a fan of brands such as Muji and APC, and it shows in his 1970s-inspired mid-length peasant dresses decorated with paisley, white shirts worn under little sweaters, tailored shorts and tapestry-print skirts. Most of his fabrics are eco-friendly or organic and have a raw look to them.
Swapnil Shinde Forget Blade Runner; Shinde stole the week with a dramatic and futuristic collection that was inspired by the speed of sound. This translated into sheer PVC rolls (inspired by the ripples of sound waves) covering a body-hugging structured leather dress, floor-length white gown, or on a belt worn over a simple dress. Every editor in the house was coveting the kick-ass platform shoes that also featured PVC rolls.
VJB by VJ Balhara This East-meets-West collection by former model Balhara was all about beautiful fabrics and a long and lean silhouette that brought to mind old-world elegance. The Indian inspiration was evident in the vibrant blues, purples and greens. The floor-length tiered maxis, all understated embroideries and gold motifs, were the must-haves.