Gauri & Nainika: It’s peplum for power at Lakmé Fashion Week

With the #FreeYourLips maxim and actors like Joan Collins as inspiration, Gauri & Nainika promise only statement-making silhouettes at LFW’s big finale

At their previous Lakmé Fashion Week grand finale outing, in 2011, sisters and design partners Gauri and Nainika Karan’s collection met with mixed reactions. Similarities were drawn between their floor-sweeping gowns with bows and ruffles, and the famed designs of Oscar de la Renta and Marchesa. Yet many gave the siblings full points for their red carpet glamour with flirty undertones. Fortunately for the Delhi-based designers, they also had Bollywood in their corner. Everyone from Priyanka Chopra to Deepika Padukone championed the label at high-profile outings like awards nights and magazine shoots. Hardly surprising then that this month, Bollywood’s first lady, Gauri Khan, is in their six-string stark peplum number on the cover of Casa Vogue. Or that actor Kareena Kapoor (pictured far left) opted for their tangerine one-shoulder dress for her recent television début, a dance reality show.

Gauri & Nainika: It’s peplum for power at Lakmé Fashion Week

The strong women project

When we speak, the designers have about two weeks before their big LFW winter festive 2019 closing show. We talk about their journey, the ‘gown sisters’ sobriquet, and Lakmé’s campaign, #FreeYourLips, with its renewed focus on strong women and freedom of expression. Consistently faithful to icons Audrey Hepburn and Vivien Leigh, this time the duo is borrowing power dressing details from the 80s. “There will be Joan Collins from her Dynasty days, as well as the disco element interpreted into our design philosophy,” says Gauri, 40, taking a break from minding her seven-month-old daughter. There will be a collection of dresses, pantsuits, shorts and overskirts that are “fun, bold, statement-making and youthful”. But there will be no pastels, even on embroideries. Deep reds, electric blues, and a lot of black and white will take their dress code forward.

(Above) Gauri and Nainika, and (top right) Yami Gautam walks for their LFW Summer/Resort show

(Above) Gauri and Nainika, and (top right) Yami Gautam walks for their LFW Summer/Resort show  

Art in the house

Having channelled Gustave Klimt recently, and known for their 3D camellias and hollyhocks on tulle and taffeta, this time the designers are roping in the young Alpesh Dave, known for his thread art on fabric. Another water colourist will paint the strong angular face of a woman on a dress or more.

Keep it old school
  • Gauri and Nainika, 39, may have 2.24 lakh followers on Instagram, but they believe in the impact of fashion weeks. “We have often thought of putting out a show for Instagram [many of their colleagues have]. But the good old show has always been part of our brand philosophy. A show helps you push yourself,” says Gauri. And while fellow designers have been expanding to jewellery and beauty, the sisters have no such plans currently, or for collaborations (their last one was with online fashion retailer, Koovs, a few years ago). “But we have a strong interest in home accents and would like to design a house, a restaurant, a boutique hotel?” suggests Gauri, possibly influenced by the many interior experts in the family.

“Expect flower texturisation, inspired by vintage posters,” says Gauri, adding that satin organza and silk taffeta will turn up the glamour. As will metallic gold with lots of sequins and sheeted fabric. At earlier shows and with their personal wardrobes, the sisters have often teamed ruffled pink organza dresses and big gowns with black studded boots or trainers. “You can also pair our gowns with flats but there will always be femininity and old world glamour. Gauri & Nainika will never become a grunge label,” laughs Gauri.

So next weekend, look out for exaggerated sleeves, structure, and certainly peplum. The last detail — whether sleek, sculptural or in its hour-glass glory — is now a Gauri & Nainika standard. The new mum can’t recommend it enough. “You put a peplum in an outfit,” she says, “and the form-fitting gown instantly changes to suit just about anyone.”

The show, on August 25, is at Richardson & Cruddas.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 11:43:30 AM |

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