The 27th Battalion of the Madras Regiment found themselves playing in front of a very different audience on Saturday night. Delhi-based designer Aneeth Arora had her clothes walk the ramp, this time to the tunes of the army band. No prizes for guessing that her autumn-winter 2015 line was inspired by the style statements created by the military over decades.
There were handwoven wool linen capes with trousers, upcycled denims with pashmina jackets, slouchy boyfriend sweaters with knitted skirts, waistcoats with skirts and chanderi dresses. Details such as khaki caps by Italian company Gi ‘n’ Gi, combat shoes by Floretini Baker, rucksacks, badges, and embroidered statements such as “Make love, not war” enhanced the look. Hand-woven Scottish checks met block printed khadis from Gujarat. Arora reminded us how “serious” fashion can be dealt with in a fun way, and she included tartans, stripes, stars and floral prints on jackets, trousers and skirts.
While Arora explored androgyny, her natural leanings towards femininity did not entirely take a back seat with lacy frills peeking out of a polka-dotted blue dress. Now here comes the fun bit. Who would have imagined putting an army band on the same stage as Indian artist Princess Pea? Wooden Etikoppaka dolls from Andhra Pradesh dotted the runway, as if progressively marching forward; they also found place on bags and rucksacks. This, Arora informs, is her way of decoding alter egos.
Just when we had written her off as repetitive, Arora presented a range so fresh yet replete with her signature. When Princess Pea and Arora came for the final bow, a round of hoots followed, and we knew just then that the designer was still in the race.