Everybody is invited
This season, Mumbai fashion week, known for gated premium-ship ditched the high horse to embrace real people and real fashion. And we loved it
Has the fashion week's elitist fiefdom finally been challenged? It was, until now, a hedonistic playground for the fabulously wealthy, who winged their way with the "entry by invitation" card.
Things are not quite the same in 2019. The just concluded Spring/Resort 2019 (SR2019) edition of Lakmé Fashion Week in Mumbai, was about "outsider chic"; about real people and real fashion.
Some thought the relaxed feel of this edition was a marketing gimmick. Others felt, it was the start of the next big cycle of change - a shift towards gender-fluidity, a shared solidarity for streetwear, the Instagram-ication of shows. You could tell fashion was on a chill-pill because its people were different - they were real. Do we care about the hypersexualised Bollywood barbet walk the ramp? Nah. Do we relate to Tahira Kashyap, a breast cancer survivor and Insta star? Hell, yes.
At presentations by Aneeth Arora of Péro, Bodice by Ruchika Sachdeva, Eka by Rina Singh and Nari X Alcis by Narendra Kumar, the models were a mix of friends, artists, Bollywood faces and professional models. The casting felt right, and not entirely against the "fashion system."
Eartha Kitt's C'est Si Bon (It's so good) playing in the background as graffiti artists, skateboarders and hip hop dancers took turns between the model parade, and Aneeth Arora breaking into a dance - doesn't it signify fashion relaxing its stiff upper lip? What about the collection, you ask? A homage to the Bhuttico Weavers - one of the oldest in Kullu - who worked on creating the handmade Merino wool garments with Péro's usual languid elegance. The layer-friendly trench coats, oversized pea jackets, ribbed cardigans, pyjamas and skirts with native Kullu embroidery were in sync with the theme considering a wool brand had backed the show. And although the oddity of showcasing winter wear at the start of summer in Mumbai wasn't lost on the crowd, they had a ball because, well, those on stage were too.
Ranveer Singh and the GullyGen capsule collection
The label Bodice finds inspiration in blending an experimental identity with the energy of athleisure-meets-hipster. The clothes sit in a neutral space. So, it was only a matter of time before Sachdeva launched a menswear line, which she showcased here along with a women's range in association with Reebok. A flurry of coed silhouettes included very cool outerwear variants of the safari jacket, trench coat, kimono jacket, and dresses in her signature fabric bound pleats.
Fans of Bollywood don't need reviews to buy that slogan hoodie. An endorsement by Ranveer Singh is enough to send them running to the store. Still, the GullyGen capsule line by Bhavana Pandey, Dolly Sidhwani and Nandita Mahtani as part of their label LoveGen, was a hoot, courtesy the wizard of entertainment Singh rapping in tracksuit and bucket hat in between the showcase. Created in partnership with the film, the line might find fans in the selfie-taking streetwear nerds.
Varun Bahl Pret
A bunch of designers, established and new, found themselves in the midst of a real identity crisis - shall I design for a fashion show or create fashion for life? A few, thankfully, displayed an innate grasp on changing the ciphers of clothing - being a brand is not enough, it helps to be a way of life.
Courting couture is a business very close to Varun Bahl's heart and occupation. He is also a man with an eye both, for design and a gap in the market. So, with the introduction of his ready-to-wear label Varun Bahl Prét, priced between Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000, the designer is enticing a community of real women to look in his direction. "I wanted to reach out to a wider audience, which couture can't manage," Bahl told mid-day. The mood of froth and fluidity with a modern attitude was evident in drop waist dresses, blouses, sarees, tunics, culottes and salwars worn with lighter versions of bomber jackets. The couture-like touch for which the brand is known was seen in the use of five petal floral leitmotif trimmings and Victorian pleated cuffs and collars.
Within the stylistic twists toggling between bridal stuff and streetwear, Soumitra Mondal demonstrated that there is room for a quiet place where hand-woven clothing can exist despite the absence of colour. Models traipsed their way around sacks of yarn wearing Bunon, the Kolkata designer's ready-to-wear sustainable fashion label. It was India's interpretation of resort wear. Created wholly from khadi, muslin and linen, the flattering tunics, maxis, shirts and smock dresses, palazzos and tapered trousers made the framework for the collection, though it was the details that told a seamless story of hand-embroidered floras, tassels and panel patterns.
Inspired by the Sapa ethnic minorities in Vietnam, each drape style displayed at Anavila Misra's 100 per cent organic collection was unique, and in a way a cultivated offshoot of how we have come to imagine a saree.
Shivan & Narresh
For instance, a geometrical batik saree was styled to resemble a cinched high-waist, voluminous skirt paired with a cocoon blouse. Using informed composition of pleating and cording, she offered similar saree versions in white, indigo and charcoal, held together by tweak of a drape.
Shivan & Narresh are clearly not interested in regular saree drapes: they did away with the pallu - totally, and replaced it with an animal print blouse with tassels, in one look, while another interpretation was a sheer, beaded saree wrapped around a bikini. The makers of daring resort wear already have a fashion language sufficient to express amplified emotions. And of them, provocation was our favourite.
For those looking to take a break from Banarasi brocades, there's a new statement saree in town and it's called Kasavu - the traditional Kerala-style cream-gold weave from Balaramapuram. Anka, a brand run by a self-taught designer Usha Devi, juxtaposed the old with the new, using off-shoulder blouses and theatrical gold jewellery.
Nikhil Thampi knows a thing or two about making sexy clothes without sexualising a woman, about combining classicism with asymmetry. He has a soft spot for suit-and-trouser, and his cuts are some of the best we have seen. This season, he showed flared and high-waist trousers, sometimes with bulging pocket details, teamed with wasp waist jackets that carried peak lapels in yummy chocolate shades. Thampi loves a bit of drama, so, the shoulders were padded, the collars were wonky on ready-for-cocktails jumpsuits and evening gowns.
The traditional notion of the bridal trousseau loosened up considerably this season to show some defiance. Not that Anita Dongre needs an introduction to relaxed sensuality that's at once modest and modern. Her S/R 2019 ready-to-wear collection embraced charming English summer colours and floral tapestry sprays over light-as-air sarees and lehengas, maxi dresses, crop tops and skirts that would fit right into a cocktail or sangeet setting.
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