Lakme Fashion Week Roundup: Kurta 2.0

Updated: Sep 01, 2019, 17:34 IST | Shweta Shiware | Mumbai

The quintessential Indian staple saw a modern twist at the recent fashion week, with a new gender-bending aesthetic and surprising playfulness

Designed by Anuj Bhutani
Designed by Anuj Bhutani

The kurta, defined as a long loose-fitting collarless shirt of a style originating in India, might just have found its legitimacy in the designer hall of fame at the just-concluded winter/festive 2019 collections exhibited at IMG Reliance Lakmé Fashion Week. Until now, although part of the National Identity archives—sitting beside the saree, dhoti and Nehru jacket—the kurta hadn't quite caught up with its colleague, the saree's stardom. But, it looks like that has changed.

Designed by Urvashi Kaur

Designers, without meaning to collectively scheme, came together organically to represent the heritage of the kurta in a confident, boisterously patriotic way, much in keeping with present-day sentiments. The silhouettes challenged old-fashioned gender identity and were in sync with fashion's recent shift from skin to fabric.

Abraham and thakore
Design by Abraham and Thakore

On one hand, Abraham and Thakore, who, after seasons of investigation, delivered pitch-perfect kurta styles with clear codes in textbook sync with their brand's legacy. The newly issued collection created in association with sustainable Viscose fabric from wood and pulp maker, Lenzing EcoVero, was a memorable master-class in the kurta's versatility, from discreet and playful to sensational. It was seen in hues of black, ivory, olive and khaki, with the controlled application of ingenious block printed leaf, dot and line motifs.

Anuj Bhutani
Designed by Kunal Rawal

Longtime partners, the kurta-pyjama, came first followed by inspired versions that saw mid-length kurtas tucked into the petticoat of a saree or thrown over capris. Then walked in a quietly femme fatale long kurta, that could pass off as maxi, in three-fourth sleeves and a leg-revealing side slit. It carried a dreamy mélange of appliquéd foliage.

Nachiket Barve
Designed by 11.11/ Eleven Eleven

For the kurta to work its appeal, it has to tick a couple of emotional boxes, while keeping functionality on top. Ujjawal Dubey of Antar Agni created cooler, urban shapes that smart women can wear, as can the men. And that was exactly the resolve of his collection, a gender-free world where women and men dressed alike. Blending elements of high design with the delightful realities of the street, he toyed with asymmetric cuts and scooped-out drapes. Kunal Rawal's menswear line mixed occasion wear's dynamic quality with grunge. He paired a distressed, tie-dye print kurta with a matching bundi jacket and skinny black trousers, while waving Namaste, in another look, to the archetypal trio of dhoti-kurta-bandhgala perforated in tonal embroidery.

Sahab Bhatia and Gaurang Shah
Designed by Amaare by Saahab Bhatia and Gaurang Shah

Designed in collaboration with C&A Foundation, 11.11/ Eleven Eleven returned to the gender-neutral wholesome slouch in a blazer composed with a mid-length khadi kurta and roomy gaucho trousers. Pallavi Dhyani's Three label worked single-mindedly with khadi, while launching her menswear range. Hers was a softer approach; tucking a grey kurta inside a fuchsia-lined trench coat holding snug pockets, worn with gaucho trousers. Maku's range of independent separates, when styled together were a class in contemplation. Much like Yohji Yamamoto's brand of deliberate non-conformism. A lanky cap-sleeved jacket with Chinese frog button fastenings brought together the pinstriped set of slim kurta and trousers. One can certainly appreciate the anti-fit mutiny in the configuration of big collars, XL sleeves and pockets, and sheer plaid layered look number 3 at Urvashi Kaur. Anuj Bhutani looked at Gandhi's fabric via a solemn, mid-length, buttonless kurta; the minimal tailoring directing attention to its moulded shoulder head, and the Gandhi topi.

Pallavi Dhyani and Aaravan Udaipur
Three by Pallavi Dhyani and Aaravan Udaipur

With Nachiket Barve and Payal Singhal, the kurta found itself borrowing ideas from the bohemian '70s drop-waist styles. Crafted using time-consuming hand-punched felt appliqué and finished with fringe details, Barve's light-as-air, kurta-meets-kameez can easily fold and fit into a carry-on so you are party ready on arrival. Singhal's chalky-white mul kurta starred neon threadwork and pom-poms on the yoke and cuffs. Here's your postcard of folksy, laid-back confidence. The designer's eponymous brand of life-affirming prints and destination-wedding silhouettes completes 20 years in the industry. The next big announcement, we hear, is a 1,000-plus square foot standalone store at Kala Ghoda.

Soham Dave and Maku
Soham Dave and Maku

If nighttime glam-rock is more your style, turn to Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna. They showed a version of the kurta that demonstrated the cocksure teamwork between a deep-neck satin silhouette (who would have thought?) and a tailored jacket shimmering in sequins. GenNext participant Sahab Bhatia's rendition was more engineered than artisanal. The dark-hued kurta in cord pleating, layered inside an oriental-style jacket with Australian aboriginal art inspired surface texturing, can be best described as structure-on-keto diet. Soham Dave played with the metaphors of heavy over light, pairing a sheer overlay over sumptuous gold and silver zari-lined kurta; the dupatta knotted in a European loop.

Ujjwal Dubey
Designed by Ujjawal Dubey

Since today's India is one that's in introspection, those who favour homegrown silhouettes over daring experimentation can put their money behind textile and craft champions like Shweta Gupta of SWGT. The young designer is on a mission to decode how Chanderi can be consumed through zero-waste consciousness. And that was just the point of the Edwardian-style kurta with meditative, close-knit pleats on the yoke and cuffs. An unfettered kurta shape in buttery mulberry silk by Aavaran featured the recurrent Indianised flying cherub motifs in Dabu block print. High on gloss and floral bursts, the dhoti-kurta-bundi look—at Gaurang's purely ethnic show called Peshwai—brought with it a swelling tide of cultural subtexts, and associated memories of Manyavar ad campaigns.

SWGT by Shweta Gupta
SWGT by Shweta Gupta

Rohit Gandhi
Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna

Payal Singhal and Abraham and Thakore
Design by Payal Singhal and Abraham and Thakore

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