#LFW2017: Amit Aggarwal’s Upcycled Sarees Stole The Spotlight On Day 1
Let’s not save the best for last. Let’s begin with Amit Aggarwal’s 9pm show that closed day 1 of the ongoing Lakmé Fashion Week. Headlined by an alchemy that beautifully balanced the past and the present, the Delhi-based designer built a collection off the concept of upcycling old saree scraps, creating kitschy, tactile, and racy resort-ready separates. He injected a new lease of life into unused, unclaimed pieces of handwoven silk chanderi, ikat, and patola by combining it with nylon meshes, tapestry, poplins, and leather braids. The unmistakable lightness and agility developed by mingling the corseted, feminine form with comfort left everyone, including one Mr Rohit Bal, in approving gasps.
The sense and sensibility of most designers on the day 1 roster seemed to be veering towards no-brainer, wearable styles with a strong commercial focus. An underlying theme that set things up from the start…
The highly anticipated Gen-Next presentation featuring 5 newcomers rooted their capsule collections in the idea of freedom and energy spun in myriad adaptations. Encouraged by Bengal’s legacy of the red-bordered saree, Soumodeep Dutta displayed versatility in drapes; Resham Karmchandani and Sanya Suri’s label, The Pot Plant, struck a light-hearted pulse by teaming typical menswear stripes with dainty floral designs; Nakita Singh made doodling look cool over khadi and linen; Poochki by Ishanee Mukherjee and Anirudh Chawla celebrated overstated sleeves further highlighted by fauna-inspired prints; and Pallavi Singh looked at the traditional art of texturing the fabric found in Japan, and India’s kantha (a patchwork stitch native to Bengal and Odissa) embroidery.
The unrelenting love affair with kantha continued in the 11.11 essentials collection, echoing patterns found in nature, flopping over jackets. Indigo remained the mainstay, occasionally punctuated with muted hues of charcoal, wine, ochre, and ivory. Soft, slouchy silhouettes defined menswear and women’s clothing, including kimono coats, worker boiled jackets, drop-waist dresses, tunics, and jumpsuits. A meditation on the concept of time travel, old wristband watch straps, painted bottle caps and coins were assembled into headpieces, ankle adornments, and armlets. At once totally wearable, the rawness of textiles, smart styling, and innovative take on India’s beloved dyeing techniques nudged a subtle uprising.
Urvashi Kaur tapped into the emotion felt by many women towards trans-seasonal clothing that lends itself to infinite styling possibilities. Artisanal techniques like shibori, leheriya dyeing, and chikankari kept company with hand-woven khadi, ajrakh, and cotton silks. The result was an explosion of layered separates including shirtdresses, skirts, tunics, jumpsuits, maxi dresses, jackets, and salwars. The menswear segment starred tailored shirts, jackets, and soft trousers, gathered a bit at the waist and tapered, asserting the impulse for a transitional wardrobe.
Rina Singh’s Eka label enjoys a cachet among consumers for simplifying designs adhering to non-confining, fluid shapes. And her S/S 2017 collection made it glaringly clear that she is in no mood to switch gears. Her clothes were dewy-fresh and desirable, or perhaps, looked that way. While the compilation she presented last evening contained plenty of wearable styles soaked in vintage watercolour block-prints and floral chintz stains – lots of duster coat overlays in cotton, silk floral skirts, and dresses underlined with crocheted hems, lace-panelled summer frocks, faded gingham checkered boxy dresses paired with roomy culottes – basically felt like a dreamy rehash of classic hits.
Menswear designer Kunal Rawal knows a thing or two about drumming up suspense around his collection. His bromance with Bollywood heartthrobs, including Shahid Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, and Ranveer Singh, keeps anticipation surrounding the showstopper ticking. There was a Lamborghini Huracan rear-wheel driver, Spyder, mimicking a showstopper – but at the beginning of the presentation held in a stuffy parking lot. The army of male models sliced their way around the shiny wheels sporting Kunal’s signature style of Indian wear (jackets, kurtas, sherwanis) with street-smart undertones playing with layering and textures, washed down with bright ivories, yellows, and jewel tones. Now, the real showstopper: Varun Dhawan marched his way through an audience, and picked up his buddy Arjun Kapoor along the way to take the final bow with Kunal.
‘Valley of Missing Flowers’ – the title itself evokes a sombre mood amid the fuss and muss that’s fashion week. Impassioned by their trip to Kochi Biennale and the state of dishevelled world affairs, the Dev R Nil collection didn’t follow the emblematic runway format. Instead, the clothes rested on a coffin-like tomb strewn with flowers, while a handful of models stood around in pin-drop silence. “We wanted to depict the fragile side to beauty. To revisit the past and preserve what’s left of it. For example, we had replicated the beauty of jamdani with appliqué and presented it in a contextual, contemporary format,” explained Nil of the format.
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