Designer Arjun Saluja painted an enthralling picture of an evening at Andaaz, a popular Lahore restaurant, in the concept note for his Autumn-Winter 2014 collection “Between Time”. While Saluja and his label Rishta figure among the list of India’s most cool urbane labels, it’s intriguing how his preoccupation with cultural mindsets and colliding rural and urban ideas continues to span cumulative seasons. In Lahore, too, Saluja spotted the celebrations and the ruins, the decadence and the glory, and came away with multiple narratives that resulted in inspiration for a befitting Fall collection.
And the pay off was something more than just another travelogue. Saluja explored Lahore’s multiplicity through silhouettes, prints, drapes and shapes. Disparate fabrics and dissonant textures came together to create an oddly compatible collage. Pinstripes were teamed with leather for a meeting of the refined and the rugged. Menswear lengths met womenswear drapes for dramatic discord. Silk saris with zippered leather blouses, boxy blazers with flowy drapes, soft drop-crotch pants with oversized leather jackets — such was the assemblage of opposites. Fabrics ranged from soft georgettes and silks and firm jacquards and plaids to distressed leather.
The colours were smoky, almost like the ashen cloud that rises from the angeethi at Andaaz restaurant —bleak blacks, charcoal greys, charred greens, soiled browns, even a lashing of red. The print story was derived from the geometric handwoven ‘khais’ weaving tradition
While Saluja’s preoccupation with androgyny is well known, this was, by far, one of his more feminine collections. The pleats of the sari were more precise, the leather pants were tapered and flattering, the draped skirts caressed curves and geometric necklines displayed angular collarbones.
Saluja may be “in between everything” but there’s no dichotomy in our minds regarding the cohesiveness and technical finesse of his collection. If existential questions result in such deliberations, we’ll be only too happy to indulge him.
MEMOIRS OF A KIMONO
Two years ago, when Payal Pratap made her debut at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW), it was pretty evident that she was in love with all things fusion. Her affair with kedia blouses and dhoti pants continued well into the next season and soon became her signature. But with her Autumn-Winter 2014 show “Winter Blossom”, Pratap broke that mould, stepped out of her comfort zone and emerged with a refreshing collection with Japanese leanings.
Pratap’s range was inspired by the Japanese kimono, and she contemporised it with edgy silhouettes. It was a winter in bloom for Pratap, as she used floral prints, leaf motifs and nature’s offerings, such as herbs, bellflowers and birds taking flight. Keeping the kimono at the centre of the collection, the designer brought to the runway wraps, tunics, pants, jackets, maxi tunics, long dresses, cowl pants and even kimono saris. Pratap introduced divided skirts, kimono crop tops, cropped pants and exaggerated sleeves in fabrics such as satin, silk, felt with cutwork and velvet.
As the models sashayed down the ramp, the journey of the colour palette in Pratap’s head came to the fore. The collection began with black-and-white prints and progressed to a burst of purple, red, wine, teal blue and cherry blossom among others, and ended with a gold kimono jacket. Pratap accessorised the looks with Okobo heels, which are traditionally paired with kimonos, and the models wore buns with colourful hairpins.
“Winter Blossom” definitely surprised those who have been following the designer’s creative chart for a while. It was different, yet had her signature all over it. Her obsession with colours and the sensibility of colour pairing could clearly be seen. Pratap’s silhouettes may change, her colour palette, it seems, will always herald a vibrant spring. And we are not complaining.