The grand finale of any fashion week is a momentous culmination of the week-long festivities that keep a hectic pace. The Lakme Fashion Week is known for its grand finale spectacles, wherein the past designers such as Amit Aggarwal, Manish Malhotra, Sabyasachi and Anita Dongre have designed fashion extravaganzas. This year, the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) in its first season fluid edition — where it has gone completely digital — has bought Delhi-based designer Rimzim Dadu and the duo of young designers Saaksha and Kinni to come together for the Lakme Absolute Grand Finale. This year, in a break from tradition, actor Mrunal Thakur will be the showstopper instead of Kareena Kapoor, who’s been the showstopper for the past many years. We speak to the designers on their respective collections and how the last few months have made them go back to the drawing board and reevaluate the meaning of fashion.
Small is Beautiful
For Rimzim Dadu, doing the Lakme Absolute Grand Finale is like life coming full circle. The Pearl Academy of Fashion graduate had started with Lakme Fashion Week as part of the Gen Next batch, 13 years ago. “This is special. The grand finale of LFW is a prestigious slot, and it’s even more special as I started here,” said Dadu. For the finale, the designer has created a 16 -piece capsule collection, which was then shot digitally and will be presented as the finale.
The collection features her favoured metallic cords and re-engineered textiles and fabrics. This includes chiffon, but with a twist. There will be some floral and geometric patterns in her work, which is a departure from her chosen favourites — monochromatic tones and colour block techniques. “I am experimenting with patterns and shapes, within my signature cording. This is work in progress. I will take this further and explore more. It’s a small, edited collection,” says Dadu, who adds that there is a lot of research and development involved as in her kind of material, there is no simple cutting board. “I have to keep going back to the main material. Cutting and construction take a lot of time. This collection is just the beginning,” she says.
A few months ago, Dadu opened her first-ever store in Delhi at DLF Emporio. This is when India was days away from a nation-wide lockdown because of the pandemic. “I had just opened my store, and had these huge plans for the year, with multiple collaborations planned and then we had to just shut everything down. As creative people, I think we are more susceptible to what’s happening around us. After a point it was a conscious decision to slowly get back to work slowly and safely,” says Dadu, who, more often than not, can be found in her Noida workshop. To maintain the safety standards and to start creating in a safe environment, Dadu took all the necessary measures for her artisans. “We created this bubble for the artisans where we were all living together. We had to come together to fight the pandemic, and then come together to rebuild the business,” asserts Dadu, 34.
Fashion as an industry has been one of the worst-hit by the pandemic. For Dadu, the pandemic meant a stop to mindless creation, season after season. “We need to start creating with meaning and not to just pile up inventory. For me creating is a very detailed and time-consuming process. I think this is what kept me going, as I did not have huge piles of stock to sell-off. I work on small sample sizes and make mostly on order. We need to create super consciously and super mindfully. Mindless creation won’t help anyone,” she concludes.
Hipster and Happy
The designer duo of Saaksha and Kinni have turned their focus on the Banjara tribes of India and have brought the women of those tribes to the fore for their showcase at the Absolute Grand Finale of the LFW. “It was hard to be inspired during the lockdown, and then we saw millions of women struggling around the world as they balanced work from home and also work at home, and dealing with their children. So we thought what better than the women of the Banjara tribe, and the idea of how resilient they are,” share Mumbai-based Saaksha and Kinni. “These women are highly skilled, and we wanted to showcase their embroidery and mirror work,” says Saaksha Bhat, 32.
The collection is called ‘Gor’, and features signature Banjara stone prints, bandhani, thread work with plenty of mirrors and coins in the collection. The Banjaras are known for their signature pockets and baggy skirts, called the phetiya-kanchali. ‘Gor’ has used hand micro pleated skirts, which mimic the crushed skirts that are worn by the Banjaras. Kedia style blouses and structured jackets also feature prominently in the collection. “There will be a lot of blues and browns and we have added hues of burgundies, corals, tans and reds. A colourful palette to honour their colourful heritage,” shares the duo. The collection uses silk, cotton, satin and has integrated poplins and drills to add strength to the same.
Saaksha Bhat and Kinni Kamat, 36, are sisters-in-law and have been working together for about four years. Their mantra is to divide and conquer, where they both play to their strengths. The pandemic has made them stop and rethink and press a reset button. “I think the consumer is now more aware. They wish to know the story behind the item of clothing. They are now curious about who the creator is, and that in turn makes them acknowledge the weaver and the embroiderer. People are now gravitating towards handmade things, and they are thinking twice about spending, and when they do, they want to invest in a handmade piece,” stresses Bhat. The two add that they are now fielding questions where the consumers are asking us them if the fabric is 100 per cent cotton, or if its mix; of if the embroidery is machine or hand. “We have never had such curiosity before, and we think its a shift in the right direction,” concludes Bhat.
*All the shows of the LFW can be accessed on the Instagram page of Lakme fashion Week, — @lakmefashionwk— 30 minutes after they have gone live.
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