The Indo-Dutch fashion diplomacy is a big and laudable step that the Fashion Design Council of India has taken in consonance with the Embassy of Netherlands. The culmination of a mapping project undertaken by fashion expert and trainer Harmeet Bajaj,(also the official brand ambassador of DFH&N) a few years ago,it is a project that can push India into becoming a global fashion destination. There is of course a lingering design question like why Dutch fashion (and not Parisian or Italian) that we must all explore. Last season,the FDCI brought in a Japanese collaboration bringing Muji and other known Japanese design houses to extend their idea of logo less luxury and the need of the handmade in a world fatigued with fast fashion. So what will a Dutch collaboration teach us? A part of it was answered by the special visit and photography workshop by Peter Stigter,a known catwalk photographer. And if you are searching for more reasoning,lets remind ourselves of the work of Dutch designers Viktor and Rolf and their laboratory of design ideas that have influenced global fashion. Dutch design is a celebration of constructivism. Even so,it may be lazy logic to argue that because Viktor & Rolf is a one of a kind fashion house in the world,everything the Dutch do with design and fashion must be viewed from the same aesthetic.
Which is why providing us with a visibly explanatory answer through the actual fashion show was an imperative of this Indo-Dutch collaboration. The show started with a good pinch of humour. Mr Alphonsus Stoelinga of the Embassy of The Netherlands who also co-hosted a pre-show reception spoke in laborious but loveable Hindi and expressed his pleasure with this joining of hands. His sentiment shone on his face as he received a bunch of lilies from FDCI President Sunil Sethi.
But I was a bit disappointed with the conceptualisation of the show. There were some very good designs by all the participating designers. Indians like the veteran Suneet Varma; the talented and acclaimed designer duo of Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna of CUE; Jan Taminiau and Diederik Verbakel & Marieke Holthuis of DIED. But they all appeared disjointed in theme and purpose from each other. There was no cohesive thought,choreography,colour palette,or story of narration that bound them together. Some were fine pieces of couture like those from Varma; others were fun and funky,bold,provocative garments by DIED. But these were four disparate ideas and sensibilities. Without a thematic commonality,it was like watching four nice but different fashion shows in the worldnot on one platform for one unified purpose.
How I wish this wise and talented bunch of fashion experts and designers had thought of a common theme to allow us to see two different interpretations of the same story.