YOU KNOW you are at a fashion week venue when designer Manish Malhotra gets mobbed by a bunch of students eager for selfies. At Jio Gardens in Mumbai, on Day One of the Summer-Resort edition of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW), the weather was noticeably warmer and so were the vibes. The day saw a line-up of summer collections that attempted to strike a balance between creativity and commerciality. Here are some highlights:
Delhi-based couturier Varun Bahl returned to LFW after four years to launch his ready-to-wear line Varun Bahl Pret. A line of easy separates in light fabrics and summery colours, the debut collection saw Bahl take his trademark flourishes and pare them down to the bare essentials. So, while his signature florals made their presence felt in printed, laser cut and applique styles, the pastel colour story of vintage pink, pale green, blue, grey and ivory remained in familiar territory too. Bahl presented sparingly embellished T-shirt neck tunics, smocked turtleneck blouses, laser-cut 3D floral applique shrugs, drop-waist dresses, gathered gharara pants and cropped culottes, but his delicately appliqued signature bomber jackets were, by far, our favourites. Set to be priced between Rs 5,000 and Rs 25,000 we can see these flyaway, breezy styles flying off the shelves soon.
The experiential and experimental Studio space at LFW, became the venue for an interesting #ArtMeetsFashion show where four designers presented collections inspired by art, incorporating creative techniques to transform fabrics into canvas meant to present their points-of-view. Ajay Kumar Singh’s collection Aquesthetic, which aimed to “explore the aesthetic of an aquatic body”, used narrative prints and projected images to create a surreal underwater experience. His trademark hyperprints were worked into stylish separates like cowled tunic shirts, trench coats, bombers and suits with nautical elements like stripes, anchors and ropes. Helena Bajaj-Larsen presented an abstract canvas and employed various dyeing techniques to create gradations and brushstrokes. Tailored pieces such as sharp jackets, jumpsuits, dresses and micro pleated skirts added a hint of sophistication to the deep red, black and metallic hued line. Yadvi Agarwal of Yavi, who debuted at the GenNext show last season, used a collage of Impressionist brushstrokes, textured thread embroidery and recycled patchwork pieces with Kantha embroidery to create a dreamy and whimsical line of smocks, jackets, cropped trousers and overlays. Ayushman Mitra of Bobo Calcutta presented his signature dash of saturated colour and mega prints derived from his artworks. Splashes of sequins and embroidery punctuated the digital print explosion on separates like ponchos, shorts, crop tops and tunics. Though the designers let their imaginations run wild, they did reign in their creativity to produce concisely edited and commercial collections.
Adding an interesting sidebar to the inclusivity conversation was Muneeba Nadeem, an INIFD graduate from Kanpur, who, as part of the institute’s “Launchpad” initiative at LFW, showcased a collection of separates including hijabs, kaftans, tunics and chadors. Making a case for modest fashion, albeit in a stylish manner, it was a commendable first effort by Nadeem.