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Lakme fashion week: Finding maximalism in minimalism

Highlights from the recently concluded LFW x FDCI fashion week in Mumbai

From the Rajesh Pratap Singh show on 13 March in Mumbai
From the Rajesh Pratap Singh show on 13 March in Mumbai

Attending a fashion week can evoke mixed emotions—you see the same people, some of whom have travelled from across the country, to witness what feels like a marathon of presentations, all reflecting what designers believe the consumer wants and needs. Many of the shows end up being a dull blur, forgotten as soon as the lights are dimmed. But then there are some shows that make you rethink fashion, suggesting perhaps a new silhouette, a new textile, or a new perspective.

The Lakmē Fashion Week (in collaboration with the Fashion Design Council of India), a five-day fashion event that concluded on 17 March in Mumbai, had its fair share of seen-before moments, but there were some designers who experimented, taking style in a direction less taken.

Rajesh Pratap Singh

Rajesh Pratap Singh, the designer known for his sharp tailored, formal garments and avant-garde design (remember his all-black bridal dress from last year’s couture show?) went all casual—perhaps for the first time in recent memory. Presenting his take on the Polo shirt, as part of a partnership with Argentine sportswear company La Martina, the limited edition collection showcased Singh’s love for his hometown Jaipur and the sport of polo.

Using nets, knits and jacquard, the designer offered well-fitted shirts, jeans, breeches and military uniform-inspired jackets adorned with zardozi badges, block prints, miniature and watercolour paintings from the British era. Unlike his previous outings, this collection was colourful with shades of blue, brown, pink, rust, sand, khaki and grey—all inspired by Jaipur and Argentina, places where the sport of polo draws a lot of attention.

Also read: Lakme fashion week: Inca makes a debut with a line of light, wearable clothes

Sure it was visibly a commercial collection meant for the urban, on-the-go shopper, but it was a good study in androgynous tailoring, handloom engineering and finding maximalism in minimalism—all aesthetics Singh is known for.

Anushree Reddy

From Anushree Reddy's show on 16 March
From Anushree Reddy's show on 16 March (AFP)

One of the striking features of Anushree Reddy’s summer bridal collection, Bagh-e-Gulaab, was the use of translucent glass organza, a material so delicate to embroider that many designers tend to stay away from it. Embroidering a flower, for instance, will take about two hours extra on glass organza compared to the regular organza, but once achieved, the results are life-like. The inspiration, says Reddy, was Durru Shehvar, a Turkish princess and wife of Azam Jah, the eldest son of the last nizam of Hyderabad. “Durru and (her cousin) Niloufer’s flamboyant fashion sense was well known across India,” Hyderabad-based Reddy said before her presentation. “I wanted to bring that old world alive.”

On the runway, Reddy’s saris swirled around the models’ like mist, in summery colours of ivory, blue, grey and coral. Each of the 20 looks, decked up with pearl and zardozi work, were soothingly light, channelling a bygone era in a no-frills manner.

Akaaro

From the Akaaro show on 14 March
From the Akaaro show on 14 March

In a sea of highly embellished and print collections, Akaaro label founder Gaurav Jai Gupta’s oversized jackets, stretch-waisted trousers and skirts, cover-ups with powerful shoulders, and saris in a handwoven stretchable silk cotton Kinji (Gupta’s creation) shone, for they were devoid of motifs.

Since the start of his designer journey about 15 years ago, Gupta has been working towards making textiles more aspirational and bringing handwoven fabrics into the mainstream. For the latest collection, Moonrise, he upcycled yarns in his studio to weave new blends of silks, cottons, linens and molten metallics. One fabric, a personal favourite, appeared to be denim but was actually silk. The idea is to explore “the idea of urbanity, functionality, minimalism and modernism within the context of handwoven textiles in India”, Gupta said over a call before his show.

Inca

Actor Dia Mirza was the showstopper for Amit Hansraj's Inca show on 14 March
Actor Dia Mirza was the showstopper for Amit Hansraj's Inca show on 14 March (AFP)

With his Lakmē Fashion Week debut, Amit Hansraj challenged the viewer to see fashion in a way that is not seeking refinement. His ivory-grey-black “lazy sari”, for instance, wasn’t the sexy, super-feminine sari that we have become used to seeing on and off the runway. Instead, it was a mix of shibori pants and shirt to create a vision of a sari that can be tucked in several ways to become more minimalistic and functional. Another piece that stood out was a short dress that had colourful threads, much like rattan furniture, flowing out of the garment. His collection of 17 looks, which used silk—Chanderi woven with tissue and organza—asked the question: Is it always important to seek perfectionism in design?

Shahin Mannan

From the Shahin Manan show on 15 March
From the Shahin Manan show on 15 March

In a world full of trends and micro-trends, Shahin Mannan asked the fashion consumer to wear clothes that express their individuality. Her streetwear-meets-comfort-first collection, Unapologetic, was complete with jackets, trousers and dresses, embellished with avant-garde prints—her signature. A long coat, for instance, had "Love" embroidered in different shapes and sizes, promoting the idea of self-acceptance. 

“If you want to be loud (in dressing), be loud. If you want to be soft, be soft. Wear what you want and not what the world is telling you to wear,” Mannan said in an interview, before her show. “That's what I want to remind the world through this show, especially now when we are being bombarded with trends almost every day.”

One of the most striking looks from the showcase was an embroidered denim ensemble, worn by a masked model. For, it pushed the idea that fashion should be for anyone and everyone. 

Also read: Lakme fashion week: AK-OK highlights design language of Odisha's Bonda community

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