The ramps are being prepared, and there is frenzied activity in the workshops of about 120 designers, as they gear up to show their Spring Summer 2019 collections at the Lotus Make-up India Fashion Week Spring Summer ’19, which kicks off today at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, organised by FDCI. This year’s edition will not only see a new title sponsor take charge (Amazon has been replaced by Indian cosmetics and wellness brand Lotus) but will also see the introduction of Designer Stockroom, a platform for designers to sell their work directly to buyers. Apart from favourites such as Samant Chauhan, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Wendell Rodricks and Pero by Aneeth Arora, there will be a show by designers from Down Under. Five Australian designers, in partnership with Australian social enterprise Artisans of Fashion, have worked closely with Indian weaving clusters and artisans. A look at these creative collaborations:
Indian-origin Australian designer Roopa Pemmaraju’s eponymous label is using silks and linen woven in West Bengal to create bohemian flair. “The SS ’19 collection pays homage to the ancient network of trade routes that once connected the East and the West. We drew from the historical Afghan, Indian and Chinese textiles, aiming to invoke nomadic origins and cultural exchanges. Ultimately, we used silk as a representation of art through the works of skilled artisans of Phulia,” says Pemmaraju, who has her headquarters in the US and runs her eponymous label Roopa. The collection features long gowns, sharp silhouettes, empire waists, peplums and asymmetry in shades of pink, green, purple and blue, offset with neutrals and pops of deep oriental red. “Chinoiseries are referenced in exaggerated yet complex prints, mimicking historical Chinese art, architecture and textiles,” says the designer about her “consciously slow fashion” collection.
Within the Lines
Having worked in the past with the tie-dye technique of shibori, and having been fascinated by the detail-oriented process, Cassandra Harper jumped at the opportunity to work with ikat, native to Telangana. “The weavers I worked with produce everything in their homes. The whole family is involved in the process — tying, dyeing and weaving on wooden looms. It is humbling to realise that the technique is so complex and detailed, yet this is in their blood; they have been seeing this from one generation to the next,” says Harper, who designs womenswear and is based out of Brisbane. She blends feminine silhouettes with classic designs. “I like what ikat weaves bring to this collection, making it modern and fresh, strong yet soft at the same time. My colour have been inspired by the blues of the ocean and the contrast of sunsets — such as soft peach, mauve and azure blue,” she adds.
It was a chance meeting for Peter Naughton, of the label Brothers Earth, as he roamed in Pondicherry and wandered into Naushad Ali’s concept store. Ali works on indigo-dyed fabrics with weaving clusters in Tamil Nadu. “The collaboration that resulted was unique, as Ali works in womenswear and I had the idea of Brothers Earth as a menswear concept,” says Naughton, based in Melbourne. The common thread literally between the two is the indigo-dyed fabric, which they have used for this collection. “Indigo has such noble history for centuries, as it has been traded and loved by people. For the modern man, blue is always the most handsome base colour for all styling and has a universal appeal,” adds Naughton. The collection features a variety of blue tones, with a few complementary neutrals, drawing on the handloom traditions from across India. “We have predominantly used yarn-dyed indigo fabrics woven in Andhra Pradesh; tie-dye and shiboris from Rajasthan; handwoven south cotton checks from Tamil Nadu as highlights,” adds Naughton.
“Brocade is so decorative, which is something we were immediately drawn to. We love the detail and artistry behind the handmade textile. Our designs are a lot about storytelling, so working with this fabric enriches our story as well,” says Anna Plunkett of Romance was Born, on why she chose to work with brocade weavers from Uttar Pradesh. The label , which she started with Luke Sales in 2005, sticks to the adage of “more is more” and adapts the richness of brocade to a style that is dramatic and free flowing. “We wanted our designs to be richer by using a variety of different brocades, all at once by applique and patch-work techniques,” adds Plunkett. The highlight of the collaboration is the understanding of the history of brocade. “Generally, in the West, we take it for granted where our fabrics and clothing come from. So furthering our relationship with the weavers allows us to understand their craft better,” says Plunkett.