The India Couture Week is held once a year in Delhi organised by the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI). This year it was held from August 8-12. Selective designers participate who are able to show an elaborate collection of handcrafted and luxurious garments mostly for the well-heeled society to wear for the following month’s wedding season.
Gaurav Gupta is one of the youngest couturiers in the country to show under his own name. A graduate of the prestigious Central St. Martins design school in London, Gaurav’s foray into Indianwear was unexpected. Having worked with designers Hussein Chalayan, Stella McCartney, Rafael Lopez and Vivienne Westwood, his western wear sensibility was highly lauded. Gaurav entered Indian couture segment by deconstructing the sari and lehenga with easier to wear gowns. The blouses take a modern approach at times stitched onto the sari. The colours injected a stream of youthfulness into Indian wear, with a palette of bisque ecru, rufescent red, and blush nude. With hands free of stoles or dupattas (most were stitched onto the garment itself), the models held a swan like stance and modelled the garments without any added jewellery.
A collection dedicated to women, titled ‘Devi’ and designed by a woman. The show began with poetry from Bengali laureate Rabindranath Tagore “Who is this, steering close to the shore singing? I feel that she is someone I know. The sails are filled wide, she gazes ahead, waves break helplessly against the boat each side. I watch and feel I have seen her face before.” The collection comprised of lehengas with full skirts and blouses that had clear design inspirations from the classic styles and reflected a very feminine approach to fabrics and silhouettes. The collection used red, white, and gold. At a time where most designers are altering and deconstructing the traditional drapes, Anju Modi retained those styles. Without messing too much with the traditional Bengali aesthetics, the collection used red, white, and gold. Sealing the deal was actress Madhuri Dixit wearing a red, white and gold lehenga, polka diamond jewellery, open hair with the traditional sindoor.
“My definition of fashion is luxury, and for me, luxury is happiness. Bohemian-minded, in control, mature and experimental – that’s how I see my individual buyer,” says Varun Bahl as he describes his design sensibility. That explains why most of Bollywood seems to be wearing his designs. Titled ‘Indian Nouveau’, for the Fall 2012-13 Haute Couture collection, Varun Bahl merges the classic evergreens of old India with the outlook of modern Indian dressing. The underlying inspirations being Indian: the Sari, the Achkan, the Sharara, the Mughal Farshi, and the Lehenga. But if you think this is a bridal wear show, the release clearly states — “the collection is aimed not only at the Indian wedding, but also towards those who love to dress Indian with pride, but are looking for modern updates on traditional Indian silhouettes.” Using black — a colour that is perceived to be inauspicious, was a way to defy the traditional wedding wear norms and yet giving his customers well-crafted garments to invest in for the coming winter soirees.
Indian couture begins and ends with a Sabyasachi show. This one was the closing show for the PCJ Couture Week held in Delhi. A traditional nonconformist, his show had the making of a perfect romantic wardrobe. Long skirts with embroidered blouses and dupatta, lehenga-sari in black and white net, suits with knee-length slim kurta and traditional churidaar or velvet salwar, and jackets with exquisite gold embroideries. Sabyasachi shines when he converges different crafts together in one collection or even one garment. Russian needlepoint, boutis from Provence, zardozi from Agra, Kantha from Bangladesh, block printing from Bengal and Rajasthan, Pashmina from Kashmir, chintz from the United Kingdom and toile de jouy from France, coexist with rhinestone, baubles, bows. Combined with his signature quirks of spectacle frames, handheld clutches, stacks of embroidered fabric bangles and colourful print wedges. This show was another success for the booming Sabyasachi brand.