Manish Arora, Sanjay Garg and Manish Malhotra. Pics/Shadab Khan, Satej Shinde
A fashion week that starts with Sanjay Garg, ends with Manish Malhotra, and throws in maverick Manish Arora cannot be lacking in variety. The just-concluded Lakmé Fashion Week had its hits and misses, but what it certainly managed to do was present the many voices of Indian fashion.
Clothes perform myriad roles. They create drama; blur the lines between genders; connect us with tradition and speak of the mood we are in. Meet the men and women behind this season's standout collections in a roundup that takes you through fashion week in five minutes.
Anavila Misra creates sarees from linen, and likes them worn just above the ankle. She made a convincing case for its partner, the blouse, seen in styles of the trench coat, and medley of pragmatic blousons with sleeve garters inspired by the 19th century menswear design. Perfect for a girl who wears her smarts on her sleeve, and likes to go about her day without stumbling on her heels.
Nachiket Barve dives deep into the past only to reintroduce it in an exacting, modern context. The Mumbai designer's first bridal-wear collection also marked a decade in the industry. It had plenty of festive-friendly off-shoulder bias gowns, slick-sheer lehengas, Anarkali kurtas, blouses winged with capes—all tied together by freedom to mix-and-match.
Divyam Mehta and Antar Agni by Ujjawal Dubey seem to have a new customer in mind — Generation Gender Neutral — who prefers an urbane and androgynous approach to clothing. Mehta borrowed draping ideas from Buddhist monks to create soothing shapes in layered wrap jackets, ponchos and pleated drop-waist trousers treated with Kantha threadwork and Shibori resist dyeing.
Literally blurring the lines between Mars and Venus by introducing a palette of charcoal greys with lavender, Dubey explored Eastern silhouettes marked by asymmetric details over waist coats, jumpsuits, collarless kurtas and baggy trousers.
Sunita Shankar has been quietly at work for a decade, making her return-to-runway collection a thing of promise. Devoid of mimicry and ornamentation, the lean separates in tones of black and red celebrated Bandhani from Kutch, Kantha from West Bengal and Bagh prints from Madhya Pradesh rendered on Chanderi and hand-woven textiles from Benaras.
Gaurav Jai Gupta toyed with the idea of heavy over light, as hand-woven Merino wool teamed with sumptuous brocade and alluded to the legacy of saree drape. Both in fit and overall personality, the fashion editorial-worthy collection was as much about "engineered" sarees, roomy trousers, shift dresses and slit kurtas as it was about a lesson in innovative draping.
Masaba Gupta has the reputation of a sartorial sugar-rush colourist. She combined the preciseness of jewel magenta and emerald, keyed-up pastels with sharpened lady-like shapes referenced from pinafore dresses, flared trousers, ruffled blouses of the '60s, with her staple — tailored sarees and merry-go-round lehengas.
Dressed in #craftiscool, the Paramparik Karigar club — comprising block-printing artist Mohammed Yusuf Khatri from Madhya Pradesh; Dabu master craftsman Bheru Lal Chippa from Rajasthan; Kerala-based Aranya Naturals, Bandhani expert Shohel Khatri of Gujarat, Ajrakh specialist Sarfraz Khatri from Mumbai — teamed up with five designer labels. Whether through texture, clout or the feeling of nostalgia, each capsule range benefited from the free-spirited dialogue between trademark Indian craft and modern vision.
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