The Cotton Charmer

For 26-year-old Dhruv Singh the dress,part of a petite three-outfit collection,is an ode to the nautch girls of India.

Written by Jagmeeta Thind Joy | Published: February 23, 2012 3:35:55 am

Winner of Let’s Design Season 4,Dhruv Singh is a student of NIFT,Gandhinagar,who found inspiration in the wardrobe of nautch girls

A Thigh-Length fitted cotton dress in navy blue with mud-red and ochre borders highlighted with block print and fine Kasuti work (traditional embroidery from Karnataka) seems like a fine fusion of Indian aesthetics and Western styling,but for 26-year-old Dhruv Singh the dress,part of a petite three-outfit collection,is an ode to the nautch girls of India.

A final year fashion design student at National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT),Gandhinagar,Singh’s collection won him the title of Let’s Design Season 4,a fashion reality contest organised by Cotton Council International for upcoming Indian designers to showcase their creativity with cotton.

Presented like a television reality show,it had 13 contestants,including Singh,competing against each other every week to create garments from cotton fabric. They had restrictions of time,budget and theme. After several eliminations,five designers competed in the finale,judged by fashion designers Rina Dhaka and Shantanu & Nikhil Mehra. “The final task was to design a capsule collection,using Supima,the world’s finest cotton,in three categories — pret,diffusion and avant garde,” says Singh. For his collection,the student of fashion design flipped the pages of history books and rummaged through archives for information on the nautch girls of India. He was particularly inspired by their wardrobe. “I was quite fascinated with the way they used to drape their dupattas,the volume of the ghaghras,the rich yet elegant styling and their postures,” says the young designer who wanted to create a “rich and royal look” with cotton,without relying on silks or brocade.

Sticking to the grand finale theme of “Indian Contemporary”,Singh worked with an earthy colour palette comprising hues in mustard,red,browns,navy blue and black. “Hand embroidery and block prints were the only embellishments I used. I see my collection as an amalgamation of two centuries of fashion,” says Singh,whose navy blue dress was a winner with Malaika Arora Khan and Sameera Reddy,present at the grand finale. “The win and the adulation is very motivating and I am waiting to complete my course and launch my own label,which will offer fusion Indian clothing for both men and women,” says Singh,who,as part of the award,has pocketed Rs 4 lakh as grant for his next collection. He will attend the Supima Fashion Show,that will be held later this year at the New York Fashion Week.

Speaking about his association with the contest,jury member and designer Shantanu Mehra said,“The competition was very strong,but it’s great to see cotton getting this kind of fashion focus. I think designers,young and old,have overlooked cotton for modern fabrics,forgetting that the same look and feel can be achieved in cotton without sacrificing comfort.” Singh would agree.

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