It’s the platform that gave us the likes of Masaba Gupta, Pero, Rahul Mishra and Kunal Rawal. The Lakme GenNext show has often served as a crystal ball of sorts, where new talent has been spotted and groomed by mentors like Sabyasachi in the past. This year has designer and consultant Sabina Chopra as the mentor. The Lakme Fashion Week Summer Resort 2020 (LFWSR20) started on Tuesday at the Jio Garden in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla complex, with a mega show that brought together 30 of the brightest discoveries of the GenNext platform.
We saw signature creations by Rimzim Dadu, Bodice, Ragini Ahuja and Nitin Bal Chauhan, besides Mishra, Gupta and Rawal. With actors Vicky Kaushal and Janhvi Kapoor as showstoppers, the show was a reminder of the humble beginnings of these now established names. We saw a signature of all these names, a pop-coloured sari from the House of Masaba, a yellow, detailed outfit by Mishra, slick dhoti-pants by Antar-Agni (Ujjawal Dubey) — the participating designers had recreated looks from their debut collections. All was good, though it would have been better if the designers had a common theme.
Juxtaposing the past batches of GenNext was the new breed, who as per tradition, were the opening act for LFWSR20, on Wednesday. Expectations were high, as the batch had been handpicked by a jury comprising Amit Aggarwal and Tina Tahiliani, among others. Sadly, they had nothing to write home about. While last year, in the August 2019 edition, we had the stellar Stanzin Palmo with her Ladakhi label Zilzom, this batch was nothing but a pale shadow of its previous editions. While they were all harping on the cause of sustainability, and had made strides with using materials that had been repurposed and upcycled — all very worthy and applaudable, but nothing that hasn’t been tried before. Akhil Nagpal, who presented his collection under his label AKHL, used repurposed surplus monofilament yarns for embellishing his designs, instead of embroidery. The idea was to invoke structure, lines and create an illusion of fishing nets that are a signature of the fishing villages of Konkan, but it ended up reminding us of Amit Aggarwal. Incidentally, Nagpal worked with Aggarwal before launching his own label; maybe, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Chandrima Agnihotri, who has worked with Rohit Bal earlier, showcased her designs under the label Chandrima. Her work used embroidery from Kutch and Kala cotton from Bhuj. All good, but we got a strong flashback of Label Ritu Kumar, and the muted shades of red, beige and dusk green did nothing to divest us of that notion. Graine, a label founded by Mannat Sethi and Harshna Kandhari, was the only saving grace. They had a take on the Indian barfi — with the desi dessert and its silver layering (the varq) — at the core of their collection. We saw a lot of crushed gota, silver linen, ample mukaish work and zardozi. Layered maxi-dresses, sheer drapes, tunics and palazzos rated high on the wearability factor but some outfits seemed to be straight out of Battlestar Galactica, as there is a thin line between using silver as a distinct Indian leitmotif, to it being a metal of choice for the space age. There was also Ananya Modi Jain, who unveiled her label All2Defy featuring biker jackets, shorts and tunics in pop prints.
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