Voices Pushpesh Pant Devapriya Roy Ravi Shankar Shinie Antony Dinesh Singh Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev MAGAZINE Buffet People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment NEW DELHI august 7 2022 SUNDAY PAGES 12 A Cut Above the Rest After battling pandemic desolation for three years, couture is back with a vengeance, celebrating life, honouring heritage, and taking weddings and occasions to the next stage of opulence By NOOR ANAND CHAWLA T he lights begin to dim and an eerie red hue encompasses the enraptured hall, as the slow beat of a tribal drum begins its persistent thrum. Four striking, nearly identical women wearing what seems like a bouquet of red roses strut on to the innermost of a series of concentric circles that make the stage. They stand shoulderto-shoulder forming another circle, before slithering away in different directions. Some sort of elaborate ceremony? A cultural rite of floral erotica? No. It marks the return of the India Couture Week after three years of fashion battling pandemic desolation. While fashion is a feeling, couture reflects the rarefied spirit of society Back in the 19th century it . , was Paris-based Englishman Charles Frederick Worth who introduced the concept of bespoke design to suit the wearer’s taste and personality . Each of his distinctive garments were displayed on live models in a bold move that ushered in the era of haute couture, in the process transforming the concept of dressing to fashion. Since then, the French have claimed this art their own, but India, with its long-standing tradition of craft and workmanship, wasn’t to be left behind. So where the houses of Versace, Chanel and Dior put together outré shows in the 1990s, firmly establishing a place for avant-garde couture in the world’s style zeitgeist, the high-on-drama presentations of design stalwarts such as Manish Malhotra, Manav Gangwani and Rohit Bal in the 2000s roped in the leading ladies and gents of Bollywood as show-stoppers to add an aspirational appeal to fashion. A common thread that ties it all up is the idea that fashion dresses people, while couture dresses the spirit of the age. Think of Thierry Mugler’s model in a steel blue, translucent cyborg suit for his Autumn/ Winter 1995 couture, which Vogue heralded as the beginning of the Internet age, or Amit Aggarwal’s sculpted structures that wove metallic strips with soft fabrics like velvet and satin-faced georgette in 2013, offering an industrial approach to Indian drapes and appeal to the new generation of tech-first millennials. Fashion can be flamboyant, but couture is theatrical, often outrageous, and never has this been more evident than in a post-pandemic scenario. At Paris Haute Couture Week Fall/Winter 2022, Schiaparelli’s creative director Daniel Roseberry celebrated the relationship of the fashion house’s founder Elsa Schiaparelli with the Surrealistic movement and artists like Salvador Dalí with a striking chest-length trompe l’oeil, grape motif earrings and lobster phone prints. Its Indian counterpart played up the drama through a variety of risqué designs that pushed the boundaries of traditional occasion-wear. Couture is the expression of an ideal, the physical manifestation of material perfection, and the carte blanche through which artists leave their imprimatur on the collective catwalk. At the recently concluded FDCI India Couture Week 2022, opulence reigned supreme, money flowed freely, and maximalism firmly held sway This was evident in . the dramatic and heavily embellished outfits on display It reflected in . the sheer scale of elaborate sets, stunning jewellery, prolonged presentation and painful attention to detail in everything, from seating to lights and music. At the opening of the gala affair, FDCI Chairman Sunil Sethi said, “This 15-year journey of FDCI India Couture Week has been a memorable one of celebrating the unique heritage we possess as a country This year too, we have 13 of India’s . leading couturiers showcasing the finest crafts, which will hold centre stage at the 10-day extravaganza.” And all 13 of them lived up to the expectations. From the traditional refinement of Tarun Tahiliani, JJ Valaya and Anju Modi’s collections to the contemporary bling of Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna, Falguni Shane Peacock, Suneet Verma and Dolly J. From the experimental modernism of Varun Bahl, Kunal Rawal and Anamika Khanna to the daring and futuristic presentations of Rahul Mishra, Siddartha Tytler and Amit Aggarwal, there was something for everyone. Together, they set the template of what weddings and red carpets will look like in coming months, and highlighted new silhouettes that combine our classical heritage with a contemporary aesthetic. A Flair For Skirts While most designers stayed true to failsafe versions of lehenga, some freely experimented with scale and proportions to dramatic effect Show-stealer: Anamika Khanna I f Indian occasion-wear for women was to be symbolised through a single garment, it would be the lehenga. This ankle-length skirt worn on formal or ceremonial events has caught the imagination of every designer and fashionista over the years. At the India Couture Week, though most designers stayed true to failsafe heavily embroidered versions, some freely experimented with scale and proportions to dramatic effect. Falguni Shane Peacock and Dolly J drew Anamika Khanna inspiration from the full skirts of Victorian times with their caged corsetry by highlighting the petite waists of the models as stiff, structured skirts ballooned outwards. At the opposite end of the spectrum were the fluid body-shaping drapes of Anamika Khanna, who described her sensual pieces as having been inspired by the ‘Goddess’ in a modern, glamorous and unapologetic avatar. Known for her out-of-the-box thinking, Khanna’s daringly distinctive display consisting of shredded satin ensembles, heavily embellished patchwork on unusual silhouettes, and tribal artwork offsetting fine fabrics, heralded a change in her own sartorial style by “peeling off the old and beginning anew”. Described as an ‘open field for experimentation’, Khanna’s ‘ n Experiment’ line drew inspiration from A the tribal cultures of Rajasthan presented through the lens of modernism. Her desire to experiment was evident in her varied colour palette, which opened with sombre blacks, before moving on to delicate lace in ivory and ended with statement reds and emeralds. Metallics and pearls were also used to add drama and texture. “This collection represents a personal journey I have been on during the past few years. I wanted to convey an element of change. Couture is a state of mind, and its interpretation differs for everyone. I don’t want to define it and box it in. The shapes in this collection are inspired by the costumes worn by Gods and Goddesses, like fitted silhouettes of skirts and blouses. The idea was to exude power while also being flexible and fluid,” says the designer. A jacket by Varun Bahl (above); the designer Creations by Dolly J (above); Anamika Khanna (right) Outfits by Rahul Mishra No Strait-Jacketing This From short jackets with peplum awnings, to long, structured ones with masculine shapes, this fashion must-have truly stood out at ICW 2022 Show-stealer: Varun Bahl A dding layers to outfits serves the dual purpose of protecting one from the elements and adding versatility to an otherwise purist outfit. From short jackets with peplum awnings, to long, structured ones with masculine shapes, from flowy capes to cute boleros, jackets truly stood out at ICW 2022. Many designers, including Rahul Mishra, paired them with sarees for an interesting effect. His penchant for everything floral played out in his matching jacket-and-saree sets rendered on sheer long layers. JJ Valaya’s gilet-style jackets were sequinned, Tarun Tahiliani’s matched the outfits tone-for-tone, Tytler’s acted as striking standalone pieces to which the rest of the garment was merely incidental, and Varun Bahl added them to increase the outfit’s appeal. From open jacket-dresses paired with bralettes to long sheer cover-ups that provided dimension, he explored the medium thoroughly . The fashion industry’s darling since his debut in 2001, Bahl is fondly known as the ‘Couturier of Flowers’. He stayed true to this design philosophy for his collection ‘New Leaf ’, which brought to life an imaginary mystical forest in a labyrinthine set adorned with flowers. Clothes boasted intricate upcycled patchwork embroidery a smattering , of beads, gemstones, 3D-embroidered flowers and leaves. His outfits are meant to appeal to a contemporary global aesthetic within a traditional milieu. Though many of his pieces had Indian silhouettes, they were not restrictive in their scope. They embraced the global couture, where the outfits are experimental yet wearable, consisting of layers that can be styled in multiple ways. Bahl defines ‘New Leaf ’ as a selection of Indian wedding wear and red-carpet looks that have universal appeal as they break away from the rigidity of traditional couture. He says, “With New Leaf, I am styling couture in a new way to cater , to younger generations, and hence, reinventing the idea of couture completely Every garment shown here is inspired by grand and . mystical forests, flora and fauna, and my love for nature all around us.”
Express Network Private Limited publishes thirty three E-paper editions of The New Indian Express newspaper , thirty two E-paper editions of Dinamani, one E-paper edition of The Morning Standard, one E-paper edition of Malayalam Vaarika magazine and one E-paper edition of the Indulge - The Morning Standard, Kolkatta.