Fashion Week: The traditional, the androgynous and the ultra feminine

March 16, 2013

The phrase ‘richness of Indian culture and tradition’ is used so often that it almost loses its meaning. Unless there is a close encounter with it. Mine was a sartorial one.

Indian textiles, fabrics, weaves and embroideries have been used in clothing in India and outside for hundreds of years, and exported to numerous counties but have still not lost their charm. Designers have reinvented them over and over again to suit contemporary clothing.

There are few Indian designers who do not use at least one traditional element in their garments. On the third day of the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, designers took up some traditional weaves and embroideries and interpreted it for the ramp. Manish Malhotra did a spectacular job of it.

The designer has often been criticised for repeating the same styles but his clientele  don’t seem to be complaining. This time he took to phulkari, a kind of colourful traditional Punjabi embroidery, and put it on his signature lehengas, anarkalis, angarakhas, and dupattas. The phulkari appeared on borders, with jackets and dupattas giving a distinct and colourful look to the clothes.

One of the most commercially successful Indian designers, Malhotra has been working on popularising local craft. He has earlier worked on chikankari and Kashmir thread work.

“A fashion week is not just celebration and being here… but in my style presenting an art form of India which is somewhere ignored these days,” Malhotra told reporters.

Like always, the designer’s collection was very feminine and in bright colours. He used a palette of white, mustard, blue, rust, olive, red and pink. The clothes featured detailing on the back and sheer panels.

“I love the whole translucency…I think women look so sensuous when the backs are so interesting,” Malhotra said.

Designer duo Abraham and Thakore, whose show was sponsored by the Ministry of Textiles, worked on another famous craft, the Benarasi brocade, with gold or imitation gold patterning on a silk fabric.

The collection ‘Shaadi Redux’ is meant for the modern Indian bride.

“We were very keen to work on Benaras brocade and to sort of modernise it and so we did it with geometrics and checks,” designer David Abraham said.

The collection featured saris, lehengas and kurtas worn with pants and waist belts, in black, gold, pink, and red. The designers used Zari cutwork, tussar brocade and badla cutwork.

Designer Rajesh Pratap Singh’s show was a welcome change as it was an apt autumn/winter collection and he experimented with wool and androgynous styles for women.

His clothes were structured and had clean silhouettes. The designer had check jackets for both men and women, knit tops over skirts, and jackets and trousers for women. His colour palette was brown, blue, black and white.

“We are from India, our clothes definitely get inspired with the way we live but we don’t have to push a point of view all the time, every time, this time I wanted to make the clothing which was very international,” Singh said. “This time I wanted to make clothing which was very international.”

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