ONE OF Indian fashion’s finest moment this year came when 25 of the country’s leading designers came together to present a finale entitled “Crafts of India” to celebrate the 25th edition of the FDCI-fronted India Fashion Week in March in Delhi. With red, orange and pink being the colours du jour, veterans such as Ritu Kumar, Wendell Rodricks, Rohit Bal and Tarun Tahiliani took a curtain call alongside rising stars Pankaj & Nidhi, Gaurav Gupta and Rahul Mishra. Even as the industry put on its best show of strength to celebrate 15 years of organised fashion weeks, designers individually pushed creative envelopes with countless collaborations, joined the pret programme with affordable lines and took to e-commerce with a vengeance. Here’s a look back at the people who made 2015 a fashionable year.
Booked and Hooked
From hosting India’s first-ever Instagram fashion week show during the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Summer/Resort 2015 edition and a creative collaboration with beauty brand Clinique, to a soon-to-be-released book about her journey so far and whirlwind marriage to movie producer Madhu Mantena, Masaba Gupta stayed in the news for all the right reasons this year. With her innate confidence and consummate flair, she proved yet again, that just like the name of her new column for a daily newspaper, M’s The Word.
Bollywood’s favourite designer Manish Malhotra celebrated 25 years as a costume designer, a decade of his eponymous label and launched an exclusive menswear line at Lakme Fashion Week. Arguably the country’s busiest designer, he showcased an astounding 14 collections in this year, moved into a brand new bungalow, and topped off the year with an exclusive Vogue magazine cover. With his favourite leading ladies Sridevi, Kajol, Kareena Kapoor, Karishma Kapoor and Alia Bhatt coming together for this nothing-short-of-a-coup of a cover, Malhotra has managed to close the year with a big Bolly-style bang.
Nearly 28 years in the industry and Suneet Varma’s showing no signs of slowing down. After designing an exclusive line of bridal jewellery for Swarovski and collaborating with Arttd’inox on a home décor line, Varma released his latest edition of bejewelled clutches for luxury brand Judith Leiber and launched a flagship store in Mumbai. The crowning glory came in the form of his first-ever western couture line for women where he got the who’s who of Delhi’s social circles to walk for him. This after showcasing at LFW Summer/Resort 2015 and rounding up India Bridal Fashion Week with an opulent finale.
When two creative maestros collaborate, the result is bound to be nothing short of resplendent. For Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s Amazon India Couture Week 2015 show “Bater”, the designer paired with shoemaker extraordinaire Christian Louboutin to create a unique line of bridal footwear. While Sabya’s vision showcased dark mystery, Goth undertones and an overembellished yet muted palette, Louboutin added some red-lacquered glamour with shoes that took cues from the line-ups colour story and embellishments. The 80 pairs created included heels and platforms with Zardozi and Parsi gara threadwork and embroidered brogues for the men.
They may have a retinue of stylists and couturiers at their disposal, but Bollywood’s most stylish decided to turn designer themselves this year. While Kangana Ranaut launched her “Marquee” collection with high-street brand Vero Moda, Deepika Padukone tied up with Myntra.com to debut her line “All About You”. Sonam Kapoor and her stylist sister Rhea, on the other hand, collaborated with Shoppers Stop and announced the launch of Rheson, their fashion brand. From red carpet looks to lounge wear and ripped denims — celebrity conceived style was never so versatile.
Indian models made a splash on international runways. Business graduate and Karnal resident Bhumika Arora has walked for Vera Wang, Kenzo, Balmain, Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney, and made it to the Business of Fashion’s BoF 500 list of “People Shaping the Global Industry”. Ahmedabad girl Pooja Mor was discovered via Instagram, debuted at the Louis Vuitton resort show and went on to walk for McQueen, Givenchy and Dolce & Gabbana. Neelam Gill from London made a splash with a Burberry campaign and catwalk debut and is now the face of Abercrombie & Fitch. The world is indeed their runway.
Orissa-born and New York-based designer Bibhu Mohapatra may have dressed the likes of Cate Blanchett, Gywneth Paltrow, Freida Pinto, Jennifer Lopez, Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, but his “ultimate validation” has come from none other than American First Lady Michelle Obama donning his designs. And when, on a wintry January morning, Michelle wore a Mohapatra dress and coat from his Spring-Summer 2015 line, as she alighted from Air Force One on her arrival in New Delhi, the designer instantly hit headlines and became a household name in India. “It’s like the entire process is complete with the First Lady supporting my work in my homeland,” he said at the time.
On the Mark
After Rahul Mishra created history by becoming the first Indian designer to win the International Woolmark Prize, this year saw three designers — Suket Dhir, Nachiket Barve and Gaurav Jai Gupta — make it to the India, Pakistan and Middle East regional shortlist of the prestigious award. Dhir went on to win the leg in the menswear category and will now compete in the finals to be held in Florence in January 2016.
Nearly 10 years after he made his debut at Lakme Fashion Week, Mumbai-based designer Swapnil Shinde made his international television debut by participating in Heidi Klum’s popular American reality show Project Runway. And while style guru and co-host Tim Gunn didn’t take a shine to him and Shinde was called “irksome” and “provocative” in the press, and he eventually didn’t win the show, he did make a mark on television audiences internationally.