Much before we lost Varun Bahl to the grand scale and dazzling lights of couture weeks and the menswear ministrations of his partnered label Karan Johar + Varun Bahl, the Delhi designer’s mainstay was a romantic, sometimes whimsical, diffusion line with a penchant for sequin sheathing, sheer play, floral motifs and intricate embroideries on quintessentially western silhouettes. A decade after he first showed at the then Lakme India Fashion Week and nearly four years since he showcased a women’s westernwear collection, Bahl made a return to the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Winter/Festive 2014 fold. The collection he showcased on Sunday was a diffusion line that was not only a distillate of the last 10 years, but also a review of his creative journey.
The silhouettes were modern, the cuts deceptively simple, yet the embellishments were intricate. Western silhouettes such as dresses, skirts, trousers, jackets and shirts wore opulent hand embroideries and a generous smattering of Bahl’s trademark sequins. Red, black and multi-coloured embroideries on neutral column dresses, peplum dresses and jackets reprised his love affair with florals, especially rosettes.
A dash of sportswear and tiny hints of androgyny popped up in the form of truncated track pants, tailored trousers, visible zippers, the plain white shirt and the coolest line of panelled biker jackets. We especially loved Bahl’s gota biker jacket, created with woven gota strips — essentially modern, yet with a pronounced Indian rift. Showstopper Priyanka Chopra’s gota and sequin combination biker jacket was particularly drool-worthy. While Bahl calls this particular outing a culmination of his “experiences and experiments on the runway”, we can only hope that such ruminations continue. Welcome back, Mr Bahl.