February 9, 2011 3:04:03 am
As the new fashion season kicks in,the Delhi-Mumbai fashion politics is back again. Delhi-based designers Gauri and Nainika,known as the gown makers of Indian fashion,have landed a finale with Lakme Fashion Week even though they essentially do not make resort wear. Talk finds out why
Designers Gauri and Nainika Karan are elbow-deep in swathes of fabric at their studio in Delhi,creating their ultra feminine collection for the upcoming Lakme Fashion Week (LFW). They are,as they put it,going all out for a surreal fantasy collection inspired by Alice in Wonderland that will be unveiled on March 15. This time,the colour swatch runs from a bright green to a cerulean blue. It is quite thrilling to do what we like best make clothes,and this time it is more fun and vibrant, says an excited Gauri.
But beneath the layers of tulle and French lace,there is a feeling of disquiet. Eyebrows have been raised in the fashion industry as the duo,who did not participate last year,has been chosen for the grand finale slot. The events theme is Summer-Resort and the sisters dont even essentially make resort wear. They made an exception for a four-city tour sponsored by Grey Goose,creating resort fashion. But when the LFW theme is all about resort,they are back to making glamourous gowns. Confusing for their buyers,isnt it?
We were approached by Lakme to do a collection on Fantasy. It is quite thrilling to show in Mumbai,as we have a good client base there. It is our first grand finale, says Gauri. The line is repeated by N Rajaram,VP of Lakme. Weve decided to partner with Gauri and Nainika given the synergy between our new cosmetic collection and their design sensibilities. It draws inspiration from old Hollywood and fantasy,a perfect match for the Lakme Fantasy collection, he says. Every fashion season,Lakmes cosmetic line is created with inputs from the finale designer(s).
Insiders may have a slightly different take. Sunil Sethi,president of Fashion Design Council of India,sees the old Delhi-Mumbai feud in this move. I personally like their evening gowns,but they are not resort wear designers. For any Delhi designer to get a sponsored show is a lucrative deal, declares Sethi. It may be easy for Sethi to be critical,as he supports the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WLIFW),a rival event. Lakme is making a conscious attempt to woo Delhi designers. The last few seasons have seen Delhi-based names such as Malini Ramani,Suneet Varma and Tarun Tahiliani do the grand finale show. And you cant say that its a bad business decision, says Mumbai-based jewellery designer Umesh Jivnani,who reports on fashion weeks. For the record,The Indian Express found that rumours that Rohit Bal was first offered the finale or that Wendell Rodricks pulled out of the event in a huff because of them are both untrue. I was never asked, confirms Bal. Why should I be upset,I wish the girls all the best, says Rodricks.
The sisters catapulted gowns to popularity on the Indian red carpet. Young actresses such as Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif started wearing Gauri and Nainika gowns,with their cinched waists,extravagant bows,all in opulent jewel tones. Recently,though,like all things in fashion,their popularity slipped. Nainika is not worried. It is not as if the actresses have stopped wearing our creations, she explains.
But to bring back the doubts,the duo does not sell internationally. In India too,they retail at select outlets. Personally,I believe we would do well at Milan or Paris. For other countries,buyers look for clothes with an Indian sensibility. They may order for one season,but do not return the next time, rues Nainika. Their frothy,glamourous creations are perhaps the reason. They seem inspired by international labels lsuch as Valentino and Diane von Furstenberg,as Jivnani points out. Two seasons ago,they did a collection that featured giant roses and bows and that is pretty much what Valentino does too,and their wrap dresses are reminiscent of DvF, he says.
Never mind the naysayers,the sisters are excited about the finale. Does it make sound business sense to move from WLIFW to the Bollywood-dazed and slim on buyers LFW? We have a lot of buyers there, insists Nainika. Thats what all designers wish for. Lets hope it comes true for Alice.
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