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Dreams of fabric, weaving a new history

In the run-up to the Lakme India Fashion Week, the Delhi-based duo Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra who exemplify the effervescent look, prepare for the big show in Mumbai. And in a fashion event with wider social implications, some of the country's top designers previewed the collections they planned to display on a historic trip to Karachi. ANUJ KUMAR speaks to the stitching sovereigns who can put high fashion at the service of sewing up past wounds... .

IF TRENDY, chic, effervescent and variety are the words that determine your outfit selection then the `Shantanu&Nikhil' is the label you could eye during the Lakme India Fashion Week. The designer duo will showcase their exclusive pręt collection, which they term as a mix of idealism and shock for the new lady. "The attires are for the aristocratic and jetsetters with sophisticated and vibrant femininity, which has been reinvigorated with optical illusionist element brought out by engineered strips."

The fabrics used in the collection are ikat voile, which Nikhil informs is a hand woven fabric from South India which he has incorporated in his designs using colours such as pink, grey, magenta and blue put together in a contemporary style with georgettes in vibrant colours with interesting satin trimmings, with an aim to countervail the silhouette in its true identity.

The designers have chosen shades of pink as the main colour this season. Olive green, aqua blue and yellow have been used as coordinates. Glamorous gold in combination with aqua blue make their presence felt in pręt-a-couture - that you can wear from afternoon hangouts to evening parties. Nikhil says: "Pink, asymmetrical strips and pattern cutting is the common link between all the six lines that they are going on display on July18 - the day the event will kick start. The overall look is structured but feminine."

Short military jackets have been teamed up with dresses to go as a complete ensemble. Trousers with buckles and accessories like bold shoes - boots without covering - and bags in different hues are also part of the duo's collection meant for the upwardly mobile with a keen sense of style and sophistication.

Shantanu, who looks after the business aspect of the label, is confident that the present state when designer clothes constitute just around two percent of the ready-to-wear sales will change within six years. "With corporate houses as Pantaloons starting to put up designer clothes and infrastructure and overhead costs coming down, the prices will come down and we will be able to attract the huge Indian market, which is at present controlled by the branded products."

We are waiting.

`NADIYA BAIRI ho gayee...' We never knew that it's not the nukes and the `K' word but a river that was the cause of rift between two neighbours on either side of the Radcliffe Line. It's the cry to which models swanned serenely in nuptial attire created by three of the country's leading designers - JJ Valaya, Ritu Kumar and Calcutta based Anamika Khanna - who showcased their bridal collection before departing to Karachi to showcase their trousseaux lines as part of Bridal Asia to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Mag The Weekly - the fashion publication of the Jung group.

It's for the first time since the cruel hand of fate ripped us apart - like a tyro designer fresh from a fashion school - not realising that he is unstitching not only the bonds, but the craft on either side of the Indus as well that such an ambitious plan was implemented for taking designers from India to display their collections in Pakistan.

Couturier Ritu Kumar said: "We share a cultural bonding of 3000 years. 55 years are just like a drop in the ocean. The region of Swat, Sindh and the Indus has always had a great fascination for me as a textile designer as we use similar kind of metallic embellishments and embroidery."

And the man known to deftly blend the cross-cultural nuances of bridal wear - JJ Valaya - termed it a privilege to be among the first designers displaying their collections in Pakistan. To him fashion is an art form that has long been acknowledged for its aversion to borders of any kind. His signature oeuvres include shararas, lehenga choli and of course saris with floral designs in zari and zardozi. The work equally relished across the frontier would be put on show together with Pakistani designers Faiza Sami and Bunto Kazmi.

Anamika, who has turned lehengas into long trendy skirts, has a gypsy feel to her collection that might appeal to Pakistani women who dare to venture beyond the burqa.

The lady behind Bridal Asia, which started in 1999, Divya Gurwara commented: "This is another step in harmonising the boundaries of the subcontinent by uniting the colours of the bride." She was ecstatic about the support from the Pakistan side, right from the freedom of dress selection to the background music.

Though it may be too much to expect that they can undo the wrongs of the politicians but yes, the style gurus can definitely stitch some of the wounds.

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