Four of the most sought-after Lakme Fashion Week designers take Ayesha Nair on a backstage tour of their awe-inspiring collections
Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort (LFW) is pencilled into every style maverick’s social diary. It’s the must do and must-be-seen-at fashion event of the year. With just reason, the designers are the belle of the ball and when they take their bow, they seem elated, calm and so well put together. But behind that demeanour is months of hard work that involves them swathed in rolls of sketches, bales of fabric and being hit with inspiration from the most unlikely quarters.
We speak to designers — veterans and newbies — to find out what it takes to put up a fashion week- worthy collection:
Showing for the fourth time at the LFW, Mumbai-based designer Ken Ferns is touted as one of the most promising designers at the event. Two months ago, while visiting the churches in Goa, a few blue and white tiles caught his attention.
They had the Portuguese art of ceramic painting called Azulejo. Ferns says, “I have been to Goa a few times before and have not realised that these tiles are everywhere — on fountains at junctions and as nameplates. I was also fond of the combination of blue and white that I saw in oriental ceramics and blue pottery. I thought of combining these two colours so finding the inspiration of the tiles was the cherry on top.”
Ferns went back for an extended meeting with the only family in Goa who make these tiles to research the art in depth.
A model flaunts a garment by Ken Ferns. (Right) A sketch of the design
The product is a collection called ‘Secret Garden’ that takes inspiration from the 18th century, which was the golden era of the Azulejo. It uses the popular geometric motif but, in addition to the blue and white palette, Ferns has used bubblegum pinks and lime and turquoise greens. The highlight of the collection is its wearability. Ferns does not look upon himself as a martyr who is reviving a dying art form but does it merely because, “It interests me.”
Karan Berry and Leon Vaz
Designers Karan Berry and Leon Vaz are showing their brand Karleo at this LFW for the first time. Designers in their own right, the friends decided to team up when they realised their aesthetic sensibilities were in sync.
The designer duo, Karan Berry and Leon Vaz (below), work on a garment in their studio at Mahim. A model
They draw inspiration from not one but several different elements — Indian spices, traditional jewellery and Hollywood glamour as personified by Audrey Hepburn and Halle Berry.
They say, “The state of mixing something modern with something traditional was the key to blend this into one inspiration.
flaunts their final design inspired by Indian spices (above), traditional jewellery and Hollywood. Pic/Atul Kamble
And that’s when we fused Hollywood with the Indian aesthetics of designs and with the rich heritage in embroidery we have. We kept the styles modern and infused them with the spices.” Their line of bridal and evening wear has muted tones of mustard and greys, offset by bejewelled necklines and hand painted fabrics. This is the mainstay of the collection.
Initial thoughts to end consumer
The duo believes that the process of creating the collection is still underworks. They say, “The planning went on for almost three-four months — right from exchanging initial thoughts to the end consumer, the shapes, the colour and the techniques we planned to use. The process was elaborate and is still on, guess till the date of the show.”
The duo has a practical outlook. “We have a good mix of bold statement pieces and classic ones,” say the two, whose ideal wearer is a lady of character who loves to don beautifully crafted pieces.
Nikhil Thampi’s last LFW creation ‘Indian Punk’ saw many A-list takers with the likes of Kalki Koechlin wearing his saris during awards season.
This time around he brings to the ramp ‘Untamed’ which is, “a depiction of the power of the sexes and their freedom to uninhibited expression.
‘Love and let love’ is the thought that dominates and traces the transition of an individual breaking free from the shackles of social acceptance and discovering their true inner strength,” says Thampi.
The idea for the collection came from the recent social upheaval where the choice to love an individual was taken away from the people. Thampi says, “The idea originated with the thought of how a beautiful emotion like love is governed by rules and boundaries and even today, we’re told who to love, how to love and whether to even love or not!”
Implementing the idea
‘Untamed’ was two months in the making and is divided in three sets. The first, with androgynous silhouettes, depicts a strong female persona. The second set has shades of rose and blush with zipper detailing and signify a strong yet carefree and happy woman. The final set has very feminine silhouettes and is seen in a riot of colours such as mango yellow, tangerine orange and bold red. “Once the idea was locked in, we worked on implementing it onto each garment in the form of complementing silhouettes with strong accents of zip detailing and floral elements, trends that are big this season even internationally. The garments were created over a period of a month ahead of the LFW,” says Thampi.
Sreejith Jeevan is one of the six GenNext designers debuting at Fashion Week. His collection, under the label ROUKA, is inspired by the rains in Kerala.
An unfinished embroidery work.
The textile graduate from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris answered the question ‘What do you do when it rains?’ with quirky motifs of paper boats, cycles, grandfather umbrellas and Ambassador cars.
Models flaunt Jeevan’s ROUKA collection
Of the land that inspires him, he says, “As someone who has lived in Kerala as a child, and now when I’m back after so long, it brings back a lot of memories of rain. It’s a nostalgic feeling that I felt was truly worth putting into a collection.” Designing from his studio in Kochi, he spent close to five months on the collection. He says, “We began our brainstorming with rain, went on to patterns and illustrations which we interpreted with embroidery. We used fabrics from a lot of handloom weavers in Kerala and added pure silks and cotton silks to the palette. The colours came from the shades of the rainy month of Karkidakam, so it’s white, grey, and black with accents of blues.”
For his first showing, Jeevan has struck a genius balance between being adventurous and creating something that you have experienced and lived. He says, “Adventure is always part of design and caution kills the process. The process of creating is fun, and it’s even more fun when you put yourself into it totally.
Sometimes when you know more about something the results are nicer. But my design process is about exploring with what you know and don’t know.” He believes the ROUKA woman is someone who is modern but understands her roots. “For her tradition does not exist in old trunks. She lives it up to the times,” he adds.
In her LFW spring-summer collection, designer Anavila Misra unleashes forest motifs into her handwoven saris, inspired by the tribal artisans of Jharkhand
What research did you do for the collection?
The collection is called the Secret Life of the Forest. Almost 80 per cent of the garments this time has been inspired or created by tribal women from Jharkhand. My range this season will reflect the mysterious and ethereal elements of the forest.
Anavila Misra’s with artisans from Jharkhand.
How did you transform the theme onto the garments?
The forest is a land of fantasies for those who live in cities. This theme flows in the drapes and motifs. The drapes are mostly inspired by tribal art and deconstructed, with hidden elements of colour on the seams.
A model flaunts a sari from the collection
How did you decide on the colour palatte?
In a forest, all earthy tones such as green, ecru, browns and charcoals are the colours you will first spot. Most of our saris are charcoal and ecru-based. The handwoven fabric is linen and the motifs are made using prints and hand embroideries.
The workers seldom receive their recognition. Comment.
Already, I see a shift in this attitude. More and more designers are going back to the craft clusters and talking about the story behind their designs. This is bringing in recognition for the craft clusters and the artisans themselves. Our earlier Autumn-Winter collection, Santhal, was dedicated to local Indian art forms as well.