Under various pretexts, art, literature, nature and architecture continue to influence fashion.

At the ongoing Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) in Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, Arjun Saluja, showcasing the Spring/ Summer 2013 collection under his label Rishta, turned to the book of the moment — Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis” — to present what he does best. The designer, known for playing with androgyny, interspersing elements of women’s and menswear — his lehenga pants are a signature silhouette — made “Dimple” his muse. “Man and woman are words other people use, not me” was the premise with which the collection unfolded.

The hakama, the traditional piece of clothing worn by Japanese men, which is now a unisex garment, was twisted to form a sari, while the Pathan suit too got the Saluja treatment, both supposedly influenced by characters from the novel.

Showing with Saluja, Alpana and Neeraj brought in the cold. Channelling the ice elements of the frozen continents, the designers turned to 3D snowflakes to bring in the elements of sculpture and moulding that they specialise in. Snowflakes also formed the idea behind the embroidery, while photographs of the region were translated to prints that came on dresses with kick-pleats and sculpted peplum tops. Occasionally, mesh inserts accompanied the printed dresses.

While the designers have been known for their sculpted pieces, Alpana emphasised that dramatic pieces might be favoured by red-carpeters with sculpted separates keeping things viable otherwise. Explaining the silhouettes, she added that even penguins, with their “structured, aerodynamic bodies”, proved an influence. The final outfit was an embellished black dress, the embellishment darkly creeping up the model’s face.

A little earlier, Nachiket Barve took one to the South American haciendas and the languor they represent. Called “Hacienda,” the collection had some literal references, others not so direct. Elements surrounding the houses, like humming birds, orchids and frangipani turned themselves to embroideries, while an interesting colour palette of cantaloupe, watermelon, flamingo, melon, avocado, paprika and olive kept things summer fresh. The designer, who in his previous collection turned to the Ottoman, maintained that travel is an influence even in ways not so direct. “The inspiration need not be literal in terms of translation.”

Anupama Dayal, showing her label Anupamaa, called her collection “The Nile and the Kalinga”, where Egyptian elements sat alongside those from Odisha. More specifically, the Nile influences came in the form of the lotus motif, detachable Cleopatra-esque collars and the colour blue, while from Odisha the Vichitrapuri ikat weaves were interpreted as prints. “I hope people have noticed that, for the first time, I have not used flowers,” she pointed out after the show.

Gaurav & Ritika’s line, “Ebb & Flow”, said to follow the visual landscape patterns created by tides, saw a bit of a disconnect with the theme, while Manish Gupta’s “Primrose” collection — with a pastel colour palette, delicate embroidery and organza flowers — was practical and no-fuss, if not entirely remarkable.

Divyam Mehta, though, kept the fabric the focus, and did well with that. Called “Spring Creek”, his collection was about discovering the versatility of fabric. Using linen voile and French chiffon, Divyam kept the silhouettes simple — simple shirt dresses, hakama pants (which featured at Rishta too), draped pants... The only embellishment came in the form of crochet, which came as 3D flowers or waistcoat fronts. Here too, instead of using the traditional crochet thread, dori crafted out of fabric was used. Little things that go a long way.

More In: Delhi | Fashion | Metroplus