The six-day week

A creation by Nida Mahmood, Kathakali makeup at Varun Sardana's show, and a creation by Rajesh Pratap Singh   | Photo Credit: photos: SANDEEP SAXENA

SHALINI SHAH gives a roundup of the recently-concluded fashion extravaganza

The 15th edition of the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW), which concluded this Monday instead of the proposed Sunday, had its share of highs and lows. After the first day fiasco, due to a delayed fire permit, fashion got down to business and came up with some interesting, some dull moments.

Meera and Muzaffar Ali's Kotwara featured a laheriya-centred collection high on layering. In keeping with the label's tradition of using indigenous textiles and crafts, chikankari too figured in the form of flared trousers. Silhouettes varied from halter tunics to umbrella skirts and the occasional LBD. Silk rosettes added the little quirk, coupled with the silk ballerina shoes that went with the clothes. “The shoes added a nice floaty, light feeling to the clothes,” said Muzaffar Ali. Pretty? Yes. Autumn/ Winter? Not so sure.

Gaurav Gupta continued his fascination with checks, this time tartan as opposed to the maths checks from his Spring/ Summer 2010 line. “I'm feeling checks,” explained Gupta. The checks paired with Victorian sculpture prints in chiffon and satin created a look that read subtle and statement-making, elegant and grungy. “Layering was another look I wanted to carry forward,” the designer said of his signature technique.

Accessories were a highlight in Sanchita's show. Owl-embroidered ballerina shoes, Geisha-inspired doll attachments on sleeves and doll earrings and dill-doll brooch caps added a strange cuteness to outfits that ranged from bodysuits in tulle and jersey, leather dresses and jersey tees. “My dolls were big, thin, old, young. I wanted to say these are for women of any shape, any size,” said Sanchita. In leather dresses, the harlequin was dominant. “I wanted to use the harlequin, but in a subtle way. The (leather) dresses are clothes you can wear but also wash in water,” she added.

Clothes that really stood out came from the labels of Atsu, Abraham & Thakore, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rahul Mishra and CUE by Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna.

Androgyny was the keyword in Atsu Sekhose's line. The designer used men's suiting fabrics and men's tailoring techniques to create a range of extremely well-finished jackets, trench coats, boyfriend jackets, draped dresses, pleated pants and embroidered skirts for women. Embroidery was cleverly used to achieve a kind of degradé effect, while lace was used to soften the effect of wool, like in the wool shirt with lace sleeves. A designer to watch out for.

Abraham & Thakore's much-awaited ramp debut did not disappoint. There was no fancy “inspiration” or “theme” to adhere to and the line was a continuance of the duo's monochrome palette. Models with Minifig-ish makeup walked in sporting silk ikat kurtas, appliqué scarves (with motifs of chappals, autorickshaws, parrots, lotus and umbrellas), poly-laminate churidars and skirts, the very ‘in' zouave pants, quilted silk pants and even quilted-vest cholis on saris. Something as dull as a black khadi sari suddenly became young and fun through the use of the aforementioned motifs embroidered at the border in copper thread. Colour came in last, through two saris with red and yellow at the pallus of monochrome silk ikat saris respectively. The standing ovation only seemed justified.

Relative newcomer Rahul Mishra, so far known for his reversible dresses in traditional fabrics, created a flutter with ‘The Butterfly Effect'. The designer used aari work to depict the metamorphosis of shapes from one for to another. Organza dresses came with barfi motifs that slowly changed to butterflies as one proceeded from the top of a dress to its hemline, with flowers making way for skyscrapers in a metaphoric message in others. They made for a pretty sight.

Rajesh Pratap Singh's collection for the grand finale, ‘Bespoke Tales', did not disappoint, at least those who didn't expect an unnecessary Bollywood star turn. Hundreds of toiles formed the backdrop, as a symbol the designer's respect for muslin over other “superficial” things. There were reversible royal blue silk jackets, wool jackets with leather sleeves, leather cutwork jackets, panelled shift dresses, skirts that you soon realised were shorts, red-and-black jackets with snowflake-pattern embroidery, dresses with punch-holed sheaths, and tunics. “Themes and inspirations are words used as a marketing tool,” the designer deadpanned when someone asks him about his inspiration.

‘Shadow Lines' from Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna focussed on well-stitched dresses, pants and jackets, though they probably played it a little safe.

Drama-wise, Varun Sardana and Nida Mahmood scored. After a 90-minute wait, the audience walked into the show area for Sardana's show to find the chairs missing. Kathakali makeup and feather shoes lent the only dash of colour to a predominantly black show. “I wanted a more contemporary take on Kathakali. I tried to experiment with a different form,” said Sardana. On the case of the missing chairs, he explained, “I've always wanted to do a show without a front row. It doesn't matter where you sit.” Nida Mahmood's ‘Sadakchaap' proved a riot, majorly abetted by the plastic whistles that came with the seats. After the musicians descended the ramp, models with plastic Ravan masks and painted helmets with origami extensions and the words “Yahaan thookna mana hai' or ‘Kaanch ka samaan' stuck to them, walked in.

Our pick? At the end of the Lecoanet Hemant show, asked whether the jackets used in the show (with the theme ‘Green') were made of real or faux leather, Hemant Sagar replied, “Of course, it was real leather. Leather's as natural as it gets.” But why name the line ‘Green'? “Well, I didn't peel them!” Thank god for small mercies!