People want to be in their own fashion tribes, so they want to wear the same clothes to be connected to everyone else in that tribe. But they want to be different from other tribes,” French designer Christian Lacroix famously said, recognising fashion’s dichotomous need to belong, yet be distinct.
Even as seasonal style statements change every six months, some things remain constant — fashion’s obsession with evolving, yet holding on to tribal cultures, customs and ethnologies. No surprise then, that our designers’ pre-occupation with tribal practices, colour and attire manifests itself again in the forthcoming Autumn-Winter 2016 line-up at Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW), as they delve into folklore, native embroideries, even battle gear, to tell a contemporary story.
As designer Anupamaa Dayal says, “There is something raw and timeless in their search of beauty, their ornamentation and decoration. They are more connected to the elements. Today, the rest of us feel the need for that ancient wisdom and philosophy and practise of living closer to Mother Earth.”
From warrior tribes and jewellery traditions to contemporary pop culture references, the tribal touch is here to stay.
For designer Anupamaa Dayal, a trip to Kohima last year for the Hornbill Festival, turned out to be more than just one more thing ticked off her bucket list. It turned out to be her “point of inspiration, like falling in love” and gave birth to her Fall-Winter collection “Fight & Feast”. Dayal came away enchanted by the beauty of the aesthetic standards that she witnessed amongst the tribal communities in Kohima. “I encountered something raw, timeless and exotic — the superlative quality of their textiles, weaponry, ornamentation, basketry and their overall refined aesthetics, considering their bloodthirsty warrior heritage,” she says. This collection sees Dayal eschew her favourite pink and floral look for a bright colour story replete with bold graphic prints, androgynous shapes and standout accessories made with textiles, including some interesting head-gear.
Kolkata-based designer Kiran Uttam Ghosh draws inspiration from all things silver for her Autumn-Winter collection. But as with all the inferences this understated designer draws, the derivations are not literal. While she draws inspiration from her life-long love for silver jewellery, the interpretations come in subtle forms of surface texturing, delicate mukaish embroidery, filigree work, mirror-work and folk prints. With hints of Tibetan, Mongolian and Central Asian jewellery seeping in, adding tribal touches to the looks came organically. “Folk and rustic tribal elements are part of our lives, our craft and our DNA. How can we leave that behind?” asks Ghosh. Even as heritage meets “modern, minimalist conceptual jewellery”, Ghosh promises a “celebration of access”.
On the sidelines of AIFW, away from the glare of the runway floodlights, David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore will showcase their evening wear collection at the Moonriver store on Thursday. And while “quiet glamour” is their mantra, the designer duo have worked with gold, copper and silver in “patterns drawn from geometrics that are inspired by tribal drawings”. “We choose to present this collection within the intimate spaces of Moonriver due to the subtle nature of the garments which bear better scrutiny from close,” says the duo.
Designer Reynu Taandon takes her cue from the free-spirited woman, who may be a global traveller, but prefers to wear a touch of the past in the form of folk embroideries. Embodying the “modern bohemian” spirit of the consummate world traveller, the title of her AW’16 collection “Meeting Coachella” is self-explanatory. Taandon plays up her strengths with a strong embroidery story and adds a pop tribal touch, drawing references from Moroccan motifs, South African chevrons, Russian silhouettes and chic, modern American hues. “It’s an amalgamation of kaleidoscopic designs of tribal cultures from all over the world, integrated into a line of contemporary separates,” says Taandon. Even as multi-coloured threadwork adds folksy whimsy, the silhouettes are modern and sleek with jackets, capes, skirts and high-waist trousers promising a collection you can wear to the next edition of Coachella.
Anita Dongre’s foray into sustainable fashion continues with yet another Grassroot collection “Earth Song”. The line carries forward Dongre’s aim to keep the indigenous crafts of India alive and delivers a “raw and primitive” line that plays with block prints from Kutch and Jaipur, handspun tussah silk from Bhagalpur and kantha embroidery done by artisans from Charoti. The earthy and tribal energy of the collection is transferred onto classic silhouettes that are “timeless, relevant and now”. “We have worked with print-on-print techniques, surface textures and lots of patch-work in an earthy palette of indigo, reds and greens,” says Dongre. The jewellery, too, has tribal undertones with slim neck-bands and chokers that Dongre’s team has fashioned from recycled waste from the factory.