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Down memory lane, Africa and the Orient

Shalini Shah
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Digital prints of Bollywood actors, African tribesmen, lace, net, the dresses had it all….

The Oriental influence:Models showcasing creations by designer Kirran Uttam Ghosh on the third day of Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Autumn/Winter-2013 in New Delhi on Friday.– Photo: Rajeev Bhatt
The Oriental influence:Models showcasing creations by designer Kirran Uttam Ghosh on the third day of Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Autumn/Winter-2013 in New Delhi on Friday.– Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

What’s black and white and red all over? A red chiffon dress with a black-and-white print of a finery-clad Rekha from Umrao Jaan . Joy Mitra’s collection sounded like fun on paper. “Abhinay”, the collection he was to show on Friday, the third day of the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in New Delhi, was supposed to be his tribute to the Hindi film industry. (The show notes gave one a mini-history lesson on the evolution of Hindi cinema from the time of Dada Saheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra .) The designer has, incidentally, worked on the costumes of a few films like Rituparno Ghosh’s Dosar and Khela . So, while Gauhar Khan dancing to Aieeye meherban… opened the show, the rest of filmdom came in the form of digital prints of actors on anarkalis, saris and tunics -- Sridevi, Madhubala, Madhuri Dixit, Shah Rukh and Kajol in a scene from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge , and the likes. A very grumpy Shah Rukh from Chak De! also stared back from the back of a tunic.

Repeat prints of a spotlight and camera on tripod, again, sound good. Only, designers need to realise how not to ruin a fairly decent thing -- the fact that one has the resources to do zari work on a garment doesn’t mean the garment calls for it. The Sridevi-print dress didn’t need the embroidered pockets, the ‘spotlight’ dress wouldn’t have missed the shiny collar.

Barefoot models with feathered anklets showcased Preeti S. Kapoor’s line. With African tribes as the theme, a series of dresses in jersey and chiffon, all a mish-mash of digital prints that featured blown-up images of African tribesmen, their jewellery, masks, etc. Embellishments came in the form of beaded yokes (feathered) that turned to digital prints when they reached the back. A line that could have been showcased in five outfits, one that could have been showcased five years ago.

The play of fit and volume, sheer and opaque is something a few designers excel in, like Gaurav Gupta. Sulakashana Monga incorporated similar elements -- lace, net, gossamer fabrics -- but without the finesse that using all that would necessitate. Fan-pleated dresses, pre-stitched saris, gowns with lace and embroidery on net bodices came with a sort of much-ness that lent the line a swatches-in-scrapbook feel.

Kavita Bhartia titled her collection “Hypercraft”, centred on the side of using technology to lend an extra dimension to traditional crafts. Laser cutting featured heavily in the line, as seen in everything from waistbands to tunics and dresses. In the initial outfits, a neat, clever use of panelling proved a nice, boxy touch.

The Orient has been an oft-exploited theme. Kirran Uttam Ghosh turned to that, and some military elements (used to good effect in Anju Modi’s show the previous evening) for her Autumn/ Winter 2013 line. The ribbed saris that the designer has been showing for a while came belted on pleated skirts and cigarette pants, while Oriental influences came through cheongsams, Mandarin collars, cheongsam-style tops, ikebana motifs et al.


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