Indian Fashion: A New Chapter

Written by VIDYA PRABHU | Published:May 28, 2012 1:24 am

Designer Kallol Datta’s Twitter handle describes him as “India’s heaviest fashion designer”. Going by the volume of congratulatory messages pouring in from his clients,friends and well-wishers after his selection as the grand finale designer for the Winter Festive 2012 season of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW),it seems that he is on his way to become an industry heavyweight as well. Datta will share this honour with husband-wife designer duo Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja.

“It took a while to sink in,but now I am worried about finishing the collection on time as there’s so much to do in just two months,” says Dutta,adding that he considers himself lucky to be “at the right place at the right time”. For a designer who started his career as a GenNext designer at LFW in 2007,a finale so soon is a big achievement.

“I had never even dreamed of making it as a finale designer. When I started out,the plan was to stay true to my sensibility rather than give in to market demands. A part of me was ready to accept that things might not go my way and that I would have to start working on bridal collections,” he says.

Like Datta,the career plans of Pankaj and Nidhi,too,have got a shot in the arm after LFW announced its decision. The duo,who met while working under veteran designer Rohit Bal,have won people over with their well-researched collections since 2006 — be it Japanese knitting or the Polish paper-cutting technique. Interestingly,this is their first time at LFW. “We couldn’t have opened the LFW account in a better way,” says Pankaj. A few weeks ago,when they first sent in their designs to Lakme and IMG Reliance,an event management company that puts together the show,they expected a regular berth. “The decision to have us present one of the finale segments was a pleasant surprise. As younger designers,there’s a lot more riding on us,” he adds.

The organisers say it is a well-thought out decision. “Both Kallol and Pankaj and Nidhi have grown to be cutting-edge designers with a futuristic perspective. This is a strategic shift on Lakme’s part,in line with redefining the future of fashion,” explains Purnima Lamba,Head – Lakme,Innovations. Anjana Sharma of IMG Reliance adds,“We’re proud to be able to provide this platform to the next generation of Indian design talent.”Industry experts have welcomed the move. Entrepreneur Aparna Badlani of Atosa,a Mumbai-based fashion store,says,“With due respect to the senior designers,it was high time we looked beyond them. With this season,we are acknowledging the fact that there are equally talented designers out there who deserve to be in the spotlight.”Several senior designers are also happy with the selection of finale designers. In fact,some of them,including Wendell Rodricks and Rohit Bal,have even rallied for it. “We have learnt that Rohit Bal,who is on the advisory board for LFW,was among those who were instrumental in bringing about this change,” says Pankaj. When contacted for his take,Bal,in his inimitable style,replied: “fantastic”. We agree.

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