AT designer Anita Dongre’s sprawling production facility in Rabale in Navi Mumbai, brainstorming sessions are underway as the team draws up plans for their Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Summer/Resort 2017 finale collection. On February 5, Dongre’s designs will walk the ramp at a grand off-site fashion showcase at Bandra Fort. While in her more than two-decade long career as a designer, Dongre has put together many an impressive runway presentation, this one is extra special because it marks the first time that the House of Anita Dongre will present a grand finale.
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As with all LFW finales, this too shall be led by cosmetic giant Lakme’s seasonal marketing trend, the Summer/Resort 2017 campaign focusing on argan oil enriched lipsticks. “Since organic argan oil is considered ‘liquid gold’ in the beauty industry, our collection will also showcase handspun and organic cotton with gold accents,” explains Dongre, whose label prides itself on its sustainability mantra and environmentally-conscious approach to fashion.
White and cream strains of “unbleached and undyed” woven cotton silk from Varanasi and kora cotton will be teamed with gold accents in a classic combination that’s a personal favourite of Dongre’s. “This will be a beautiful, sheer, feminine and summery collection of contemporary separates with a few bridal pieces and menswear looks also thrown in,” she says.
And as always, the emphasis will be on “simplicity and wearability”, the cornerstones she has built her fashion empire on. “Perhaps, I was ahead of my time. I’ve always looked at the ramp as a platform to showcase clothes that can easily go from runway to the rack. And I’ve achieved success using simplicity of design, which resonates with my buyers. Now, everyone is talking about comfortable, fuss-free clothes,” says Dongre. While couturiers and bridalwear specialists around the country are now waking up to the potential of the pret market, Dongre has, for decades, championed the cause of ready-to-wear apparel. “The world is now turning to the ‘see now, buy now’ business model, but we’ve been doing it for years, always making sure our collections were available in stores weeks after, if not immediately post a show,” says Dongre.
Not surprisingly, the LFW finale line promises to be no different, taking classic shapes and giving them a youthful and modern appeal, with pieces that can be reinvented and worn in multiple combinations. And while the fashion week tradition of a grand finale is necessarily an Indian construct, there’s no denying that for a designer with her experience, five independent fashion labels and 239 retail outlets across the country flourishing under the umbrella of her design house, this recognition has been a long time in coming.
But Dongre feels no sense of vindication. “I’m just grateful that I’ve been able to build a large fashion house and get to where I am today. I just want to continue making beautiful clothes and that’s what I’m striving to do with this collection as well,” she says.