Fashion Flirts with Art

When Delhi-based designer Anupama Dayal was approached by the organisers of the India Design ID 2013 to set up an installation at the NSIC exhibition grounds in the Capital,her creative streak prompted her to say yes.

Written by VIDYA PRABHU | Published:May 21, 2013 2:25 am

Once a domain of artists,installations are fashion designers’ latest tour de force

When Delhi-based designer Anupama Dayal was approached by the organisers of the India Design ID 2013 to set up an installation at the NSIC exhibition grounds in the Capital,her creative streak prompted her to say yes. “I have had no prior experience of putting up an installation. This seemed like an interesting challenge as I was getting to work with a new medium,” says Dayal. She went on to create a tree-shaped installation,titled Tree-D,at the design forum that took place in February. “Once I had the blacksmith make the tree,we draped it with a sari made out of recycled fabric bearing motifs of peepul leaves and butterflies. The concept was referenced from Indian wedding traditions where trees are often treated as brides,” she says.

While Dayal says that setting up the installation was not a premeditated move,the same isn’t true of others. Mumbai’s Shilpa Chavan (of the label Little Shilpa) and Kolkata-based Kallol Datta are known for their predilection for fashion-meets-art installations. The former has shown exhibits (including moving installations inspired by street life in India for the Regent Street Festival in the UK) and the latter having worked on installations during his Khoj residency,and more recently,the launch of his autumn/ winter 2013 line at Mumbai’s Project 88 gallery. Others include Manish Arora,Wendell Rodricks,Arjun Saluja,Lecoanet-Hemant,Nikhil Thampi and sisters duo Gauri and Nainika Karan.

Datta says often it’s the venue that inspires him to come up with installations. “Art galleries,such as the Project 88 gallery,have an industrial quality and that comforts me into making clothes centred around a key concept. It encourages me to build a larger story,so the installation becomes more than just fashion,” he says. For Didier Lecoanet and Hemant Sagar too,concept reigns supreme. “A typical fashion week show comes with so many caveats. So when we were asked to work on installations for Bonjour India 2013 at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar with a carte blanche,it was too tempting an offer,” says Sagar,who along with Lecoanet,created a special line of unique pieces titled “Luminocity”. It was unveiled as a fashion installation with real light sculptures and projections on the opening night of the festival this February. “Our LED-lit pieces were made of translucent synthetic fabrics and technical light-diffusing materials mounted on metallic structures,” he says.

Installations offer good recall value. Designer Nikhil Thampi,who recently created a video installation as part of an event at Mumbai’s Volte art gallery,says that he wanted his work to stand out. “My showcase entailed a display of my garments alongside a live video fashion installation where a video of my Lakme Fashion Week ramp show,integrated with elements of colour and motifs that were related to the collection theme,were projected on to a white customised gown,” he says.

Whatever the reason,designers agree that they are no different from artists looking to express themselves through their work. The medium then is only the means to an end — that of creative satisfaction.

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