It’s no question, 2017 was a tough year. Besides obvious, controversial hot topics like Trump and DACA, incidents such as GST (Goods and Services Tax) affecting basically everyone, the #MeToo campaign highlighting an alarming number of sexual abuse victims, and dangerously high smog levels, left people feeling fed up and disheartened.
Since fashion is a pretty good indicator of the current zeitgeist, it was clear at Lakme Fashion Week’s spring/resort 2018 presentations, that the masses want nothing to do with last year’s rubbish. Instead, designers proposed starting afresh with styles that were fuss-free and easily wearable. After all, what’s more uplifting than a killer outfit that’s also comfortable?
Models were free to move about in easy-breezy fabrics and relaxed silhouettes. Collections by Saaksha & Kinni, Naushad Ali, and ASA offered the utmost freedom with anti-fit looks that were a far cry from restrictive bodycon. Designers encouraged dressing head to toe in a single mood-enhancing shade—like upbeat orange or serene white. Others insisted on putting some pep in your step with a dash of happy-shiny sequins, as seen at Verandah, Kotwara, and Shyamal Bhumika.
Restoring faith in humanity where sustainable brands (like Rajesh Pratap Singh, Assam, and Khumanthem x Manipur) who pledged to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible by using responsibly sourced materials, natural dyes, recycled fabrics, as well as supporting traditional craftsmanship of local artisans. Commendably, Lakme Fashion Week continues to spur conversations about the industry’s impact on the environment. This season, The Woolmark Company presented a discussion on the benefits of slowing down fast fashion.
If you too are sick of last year’s offerings, these designers have the sartorial antidote:
Our imaginations ran wild when we heard that Falguni & Shane were launching a menswear collection. After all, how well can sequined and feathered sheer bodysuits go down with the boys? However, the designers stayed true to their signature aesthetic in the form of gentlemanly blazers, masculine pussy bows, handsome fur coats, and dapper loafers—sequins and feathers included, thank you. The message “Screw Fame” was emblazoned onto the backs of blazers, jackets and handbags. When asked what galvanized their loud-and-clear message, Shane responded simply, “This collection was inspired entirely by Karan Johar” (who happened to be their showstopper). Unapologetically flamboyant, yet tasteful—Falguni & Shane’s bold collection titled “Louche,” serves as the perfect reminder to forget the trolls and not take ourselves (or them) too seriously.
After a series of perfectly lovely, yet analogous looking collections that began Day 1 of LFW, nothing made us shoot up in our seat more than Bobo Calcutta’s loud and audacious collection “Excessive Adaptation.” Not surprisingly, designer Ayushman Mitra is first and foremost an artist. He’s held painting exhibitions since 2010, designed the set for the movie NH7, and created costumes for the band Ganesh Talkies. Ayushman’s designs may have been simple (tiered maxi dresses, boiler suits, and kaftans), but his abstract graphics featuring enlarged eyes and lips (his own artwork) in vibrant shades and exaggerated with sequin embellishment, made for an eye-catching show.
“The Tribe – The India Story” is a perfect example of the juxtaposition that is Shantanu & Nikhil. Their collections are an amalgamation of exotic and familiar, local and western, masculine and feminine, and traditional and modern. Gender-fluid capes looked just as handsome on men as they did on women, while military-esque brooches and ornamental jewellery migrated easily between both sexes. Sharply tailored waistcoats with impeccable pleats contrasted loosely draped micro-pleated fabric, and cropped jackets were paired with elongated garments. Never leaving a detail untouched, the duo ensured everything from the shoes, to the makeup, and even knuckle rings, were influenced by the label’s stately and regal appeal.
Sonal Verma’s “Koya” collection is perfect to pack for a holiday—Whether roaming the Rue des Barres in Paris or on safari in Kenya. The collection consists of everything you’ll need to get through your travels—Be it a versatile cocktail dress, stylish jacket, functional bum bag, or inconspicuous scarf to conceal unruly hair. Playful hand embroidered wildcats and intricate beading on corset belts lent a bit of edge to Sonal’s free-spirited, bohemian styles. Tugging at our nomadic heartstrings was the charming color palette of dusty brights and antique-looking earth tones. Eclectic looks meant for a true rara avis.
The last few months have been a whirlwind for Payal Singhal, who’s kept herself busy with multiple collaborations (Label Life, Fizzy Goblet, and a fragrance with All Good Scents)—each venture receiving well-deserved praise. Payal’s “Saira” collection for Lakme Fashion Week only validates the designer’s capacity for giving women exactly what they want—To be the best-dressed girl at the ball. It’s guaranteed that one will fall in love with the collection while observing from the sidelines, but when seen up close, your heart is Payal’s forever. Delicate crepe silk and luxurious brocade spoke of a romantic bygone era, while impressive detailing included pitta, cutwork, gold fan embroidery on net, and mukaish (hundreds of hammered gold dots which took one week to create). Favourite styles included a bodice with puffed Maria Claria gown-type shoulders and jumpsuit with silver beaded fringe along the entire side seam. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Payal Singhal collection without the designer’s signature jannat print (on lehengas), which she also graciously printed on journals to gift the audience. Payal, a journal collaboration next please?
The epitome of romance and femininity, Aikeyah’s poetic collection showcased delicate lace jackets with tie waist, midi-length tulle skirts, oversized sheer bows, diaphanous pleated skirts, and tiers galore. Complimenting the monochrome ballerina motif were equally pretty point-toe black flats with white laces. One of the many standout styles was Aikeyah’s white asymmetrical, tiered maxi dress with large black tassles along each hem and paired with a dreamy, black lace coat. Another favourite: an elegant sheer black jacket with lace appliqué and long white fringe.
One of the most highly anticipated shows was Guarang’s “Neel” collection. Fashion-goers arrived early for once to ensure they snagged good seats. The entire line featured beautiful block prints in varying shades of indigo that were finished with chikankari, parsi, and kantha embroidery. It may sound monotonous, but the final outcome was anything but. Mixing head-to-toe prints can be risky, but the tonal palette offered an elegant effect. Subtle hints of magenta, coral, burgundy, or grass green appeared in the form of trim, further enhancing the richness of the cerulean tones. It’s said that Gaurang worked incessantly to perfect each shade of indigo—Sometimes spending up to thirty days perfecting a hue. Presented alongside a live band and graceful Kathak dancer, the designer’s devoted display of tradition and craftsmanship was nothing short of spectacular.
Lakme Fashion Week presented #NORTHEASTMOJO, a showcase of several collections created by different tribes in North-Eastern states, and using techniques indigenous to their region. One of the six designers Jenjum Gadi, collaborated with NGO Exotic Echo Society to present Loinloom Weaves made by artisans in Nagaland. Using traditional cotton fabric dyed with natural colour and a back strap weaving technique called Loinloom, Society x Nagaland presented an entirely unisex line adorned with tribal patterns and fringe. The textured styles in relaxed silhouettes easily transcend into trendy city wear. The show ended with a colorful and upbeat performance by the Nagaland-based Tetseo sisters.
As per usual, Tarun Tahiliani swept us off our feet and carried us away to a universe where cosmic glamour took shape in the form of gossamer fabric embellished with iridescent sequins, Swarovski crystals, and celestial embroideries. Appropriately titled “Tarakini” (meaning stardust), the stellar garments depicted half moons and constellations. The difference this time around was Tarun’s empathy for the wearer (often times a bride). “Clothes are so heavy, stiff, uncomfortable,” explained Tarun, wanting women to enjoy the moment in which they are wearing his designs. The master couturier made his opulent silhouettes more lightweight to create a “floating elegance.” Among the many standout pieces was a women’s jumpsuit with winged sleeves and men’s blush-pink Jodhpuri jacket with attached scarf swung over one shoulder.
Punit Balana‘s designs are built around the age-old technique of Bagru—An intricate hand printing process that utilises natural dyes to create vivid patterns. Basing an entire collection on a 400-year-old printing method and stamping it onto traditional desi garments (like ‘kali’ ghararas and saris) is risky, but their relevance to today’s modern woman cannot be denied. Easy, free-spirited styles adorned with the designer’s signature Dori embroidery speaks to women from all walks of life. Not to mention the label’s eco-friendly impact on Mother Earth—A conversation every designer should be having. In addition, the historic art form provides economical support for the ‘Chippas’ of Bagru (the home of which the craft is named after). A fantastic move on his part as designers attempt to find innovative ways of fusing the old with the new. Punit said it best himself, “This collection aims to dress a woman deeply rooted into her Indian heritage while living the life of an independent 21st century aspirant.”
Neha Agarwal’s “Lost in the woods” collection is one that can only be appreciated fully when viewed up close. It’s not until her handmade textured fabric (constructed from miniature suede triangle cutouts) or patchwork appliqué are scrutinized and touched, that one can truly appreciate her meticulous attention to detail. Other such pieces include Neha’s intricate multi-coloured zardozi on a cutwork vest and paneled lehenga with hand-woven Benara brocade. Using a wide range of fabrics from organza, cotton, tulle, crêpe, and a variety of silk fusions, Neha’s fluid and structured silhouettes each projected an elegance in their own right.
The innovation behind Nancy Luharuwala’s “Daze” line lay not so much in her designs, but in how she styled them. The designer paired an unbuttoned cropped short sleeve jacket underneath a dupatta, whilst layering it over the drape on the opposite side. Another well-put together ensemble consisted of an elongated sleeveless collared jacket with large gusset pockets on one side, and contemporary embroidery on the other. Layering this long jacket over a belted sari and replacing a traditional bodice with a sleeveless collared button-up was the perfect fusion of traditional desi with modern wear. Striking on its own, was a sleeveless safari dress with an attached embroidered cape. Typically these structured silhouettes are cut from stiff khaki, but Neha opted for fluid silk fabric instead—Creating a more chic effect. Incorporating office basics (like a classic white, collared button-up or lapelled jacket) made for the ultimate update on a sari. The entirely black and white spread only made this collection even more cohesive, relevant, and timeless.
Anamika Khanna’s grand finale at Lakme Fashion Week (held at Bandstand Fort in Bandra) was quite the production. Modern dancers draped in flowy nude fabrics opened the show while dancing (and splashing) fervently in a pool of water. The first looks featured traditional Indian wear in head-to-toe taupe and were made edgy with grunge makeup, black combat boots, warrior-like cuffed earrings, and tough-girl nose rings. The concept of a single top-to-bottom colour continued as different iterations of desi wear (featuring ostrich feathers and traditional zardozi work) were presented in taupe, followed by shades of the richest red, before moving onto all-black, and then introducing retro, psychedelic prints that were bold and full of personality. Feminine styles accented with badass accessories and utilitarian shoes painted a powerful image of today’s modern female. The Anamika Khanna woman may be well-dressed and beautiful, but don’t mess with her.