When the organisers of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) first introduced the Indian Textile Day in 2012, to celebrate handlooms and all things organic, many expected the endeavour to eventually dwindle into just another perfunctory gesture. Or fade away altogether, much like LFW’s other pet project from 2008, a dedicated Menswear Day.
Six seasons later, and with the backing of the Ministry of Textiles, the popularity of the day has grown. At the Winter/Festive 2014 edition of LFW, even as fashion media debated the organic practices of some designers and the need for stricter guidelines for qualification, there was no denying that some designers shone brighter than others, whether it was through the sheer beauty of their weaves or the glimmer of Bollywood stars on their front row.
Fit to be tied
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Tie-Dye techniques popped up in many collections this season, but the Textile Day renditions by Anavila Sindhu Misra, Krishna Mehta, Anita Dongre and Purvi Doshi stood out. While Misra’s saris made beautiful use of over-dye in subtle colours like rust reds and navy blues, Dongre’s bridal line used bandhani on lehengas and long skirts. In Mehta’s collection, loose kurtas, teamed with palazzos, over-shirts, vests, scarves and even turbans, were all awash in tie-dye in indigo, oranges and pinks. Her menswear had touches of tie-dye with colourful pocket squares peeking out of jackets and sherwanis.
With Ajrakh block-printing from Gujarat, handwoven Kanjeevarams, Chanderi silks, Jamdanis from Bengal, Banarasi brocades and Bhagalpuri silks — designers took us on a “Bharat darshan” trip through fabrics and techniques. Some of our favourite textile translations were Shruti Sancheti’s vibrant Pochampally weaves, Purvi Doshi’s Kutchi mirror and “chakra” embroidery, and experiments with Dakmanda hand-plucking from Meghalaya by Siddharth Sinha of N&S Gaia.
If Bollywood beauties in front rows are a parameter of a designer’s popularity, we’d say the handloom sari has found many fans. What was hitherto the non-glamorous segment of the five-day event, is slowly metamorphosing into the new “cool-to-be-caught-at” line-up. With Konkona Sen Sharma and Priyanka Bose walking the ramp for her and Tillotama Shome and Gauri Shinde wearing her weaves, Anavila’s legion of fans is growing. But by far, the most starry-eyed surprise was by Sanjay Garg of Raw Mango with his LFW debut show. With Neha Dhupia, Soha Ali Khan, Mini Mathur and Tisca Chopra sporting Raw Mango saris, Garg’s celebrity fan club was out in full force. While this can only mean more flashbulbs and prime-time coverage for the textile champions, one hopes they won’t let the muse hijack the cause in the long run.
Simply the best
Simplicity was the star. Apart from the unadorned and raw beauty of Anavila’s “Mohenjo Daro” drapes, we liked Soumitra Mondal’s subtle nuances and minimalistic vibe, where the colour story relied on soothing whites and beiges and saris wore tiny butties and resham borders. In Vaishali S’s “Rabari” collection, we loved the colour combinations and preferred the simple jamdani and brocade pieces, until the glint of gold got too loud and the heavy jewellery threatened to overwhelm.