The past week was a fashion carnival in the Capital city. Hundreds of people came decked up in designerwear and Zaras to watch over 15 designers present autumn-winter, spring-summer, bridge-to-luxury (aka ready-to-wear) and weddingwear collections, as part of the Lakme Fashion Week x Fashion Design Council of India 2023 at the sprawling Pragati Maidan.
What unfolded over the course of six days was a showcase of garments and accessories that responded to the trending demands of shoppers. While many designers stuck to their long-tested designs and silhouettes, as has been the trend for what seems like forever, and even presented garments that looked like something that had seen at a fast-fashion chain before, some decided to push the design boundaries and even experimented with their show presentations. It elevated the experience for the audience. Not the same can be said about the choice of fashion week venue.
Here are some things that worked at the recently concluded fashion week and some that did not:
The fashion week began on 10 October with Raw Mango’s presentation inside a stadium. WithChildren Of The Night,designer Sanjay Garg moved away from his usual fare of silk saris and kurtas in the traditional form, presenting them in a completely different light. It offered a refreshing take on carefree and unapologetic dressing, with several pieces like sari dresses (the one actor Kalki Koechlin will most probably be one of the best-selling pieces from the collection) and shimmery coord sets displaying his clever mastery over drapes and surface embellishments.
Some of the pieces didn’t really land well. For instance, a model was taking baby steps while walking in a skirt clinched just above the ankles. Another model, actor Karishma Kapoor, wore a long coat with matching wide trousers that looked uncomfortably stiff. Maybe that was the idea? Maybe that’s a struggle when working with certain silks? But full points to Garg for pushing the design envelope and presenting something so different.
Another aspect of his collection that was refreshing was including celebrities as part of the models line-up, instead of having them as showstoppers. Something that was seen at Bibhu Mohapatra’s grand finale show as well. Former Lakme faces, from Lisa Haydon to Raveena Tandon, walked towards the middle of the show, wearing East-meets-West garments by the New York-based designer.
Fashion is never just about fashion. It's a tool for self expression, and even a mirror that reflects the mood of society at the time. This season, some designers used their canvas to talk about the present environment we live in. Among the more powerful collection was David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore's Body Language, which delved into the world of ChatGPT and emojis, combining techniques like ikat, ajrakh and brocade with playful typography. Their collection, mostly in black and white, was a powerful commentary on how technology and mobile devices have consumed humans.
Another strong collection was Celestial Celebration, by the students of Pearl Academy, which transported the audience into a visionary lunar world. The anti-fit silhouettes, with futuristic designs and relaxed looks, reimagined the moon as the ultimate vacation destination.
One of the biggest highlights of the event was the presence of musicians on the runway stage. Whether it was péro’s playful act to recreate the Mad Hatter's Tea Party with the help of a live band, the rock concert performance in the middle of the runway during the Falguni Shane Peacock show, or a duo singing soulful ballads at the grand finale by Mohapatra, the performative element turned the presentations into a kind of a spectacle that’s more than welcome.
The revamped Pragati Maidan, which garnered a lot of attention during the G20 meet earlier this year, was not the best choice for a fashion week. The huge halls, the long walks between show halls (not enough buggies were available) and the dust from the construction inside the premises didn't exactly create the luxe experience of a premium fashion show event.
The other issue was the long delay before the start of presentations. None of the shows started on time. While few minutes delay is understandable, two hours is a bit too much, especially after your audience has spent some time walking around the complex in heels trying to figure out the right location.