Gaurang Shah’s showcase for Lakme Fashion Week is a burst of ‘Gulal’

Hyderabad-based designer Gaurang Shah to showcase Gulal, a collection in hues of pink for Lakme Fashion Week spring-summer 2024

March 08, 2024 04:04 pm | Updated 04:12 pm IST

A preview of Gaurang Shah’s Lakme Fashion Week 2024 springs-summer collection Gulal, in Hyderabad

A preview of Gaurang Shah’s Lakme Fashion Week 2024 springs-summer collection Gulal, in Hyderabad | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A burst of pink hues contrasts the pale white walls on the first floor of textile designer Gaurang Shah’s flagship store in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. On display are lehengas and saris he will be showcasing at Lakme Fashion Week (LFW), Mumbai, on March 14. His spring-summer collection is named Gulal and he says the idea of showcasing ensembles of one colour scheme came from singer Shubha Mudgal. “She told me that in the past, people dressed in colours representing a season. This season I will be presenting everything in shades of pink for phagun (spring), ahead of Holi,” says Gaurang. 

Earlier, Gaurang had presented a collection titled Sindoor which was lapped up by brides for their wedding trousseau. Next, he plans to work on collections representing the colours of haldi (yellow) and kesar (saffron). Gulal aligns with the spirit of the Holi festivities and spring-summer, but he points out that most vibrant Indian colours are season-agnostic among buyers.

He debuted at LFW in 2012 and has so far showcased 22 seasons. He uses the platform for visibility as well as creative challenges. “There are buyers for our handlooms. But if not for a fashion showcase such as this, I may not come up with thematic collections.” He took a break last year to step back and reassess his creations. “During the pandemic, the production had also suffered. Now my weavers and karigars are able to step up the work,” he says.

At LFW, Gaurang will showcase 30 lehengas and 10 saris and the presentation will include a live music performance by Germany-based medical engineer and singer Hardik Chauhan, who is known to perform Gujarati folk numbers with a choir. Gaurang’s ensembles are not made for waif-like models and befit women in different age groups. In the summer of 2016, Carol Gracias showing off her baby bump on the ramp in a sari designed by Gaurang became a talking point. This time, expect Carol Gracias along with fellow supermodel Noyonika Chatterjee and others to walk the ramp. 

Gulal is characterised by an interplay of techniques from different regions. Each ensemble or sari is a combination of three or four weaves and crafts. “There has to be a synergy and a balance of textures,” says Gaurang. He does not work with a moodboard but relies on his years of experience of working with weavers and craftspeople. 

For instance, one ensemble features a lehenga with Patan patola and Parsi gara embroidery and a handwoven crepe silk dupatta from Karnataka. Another outfit has a Patan patola dupatta teamed with a lehenga that has Kota jamdani and a Banaras silk border. The saris and lehengas are accentuated with fine embroidery — mochi, Parsi gara, kasuti, Kashmiri and Kutch embroidery. The rare embroideries in this collection also include maraudi from Ahmedabad and petit point from Kerala. Some of these, especially the petit point embroidery are fine enough to pass off as a painting. 

The use of jamdani, jacquard and dobby weaving techniques, bandhani and chikankari on charkha khadi, fine count cotton, matka silk, Kanchi silks and organza are among Gulal’s highlights and some of the outfits have involved over two years of work by weavers and craftspeople. Gaurang says the buyers are more discerning than ever and appreciate woven textures. 

The colours range from dusty and blush pinks to fuschia. “The show will begin with a model wearing an ivory white lehenga and then move to pale and deeper pinks since people begin Holi celebrations in white,” says Gaurang.

One of the concerns while designing, says Gaurang, is the threat of cheap imitations. But he is confident that he has worked his way around it with the interplay of weaves and crafts that are tough to replicate. 

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