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Fresh Accents
Text by Freanka Dhanak and Photographs by Kartikey Shiva
Published: Volume 15, Issue 5, May, 2007
Creative thinking and ingenuity define the works of these Gen-Next designers who made their debut at the recent Lakmé Fashion Week

What was the inspiration for your collection at LFW and what is your general motivation while designing?
NM:
The Baroque architecture in Milan completely intrigued me because they dramatised the effect of light and shadow. Chiaroscuro (which means light and shadow in Italian) is a journey from clarity into obscurity. Things are revealed and then hidden - this is the basis of my collection. I have used colours and fabrics that mimic this effect of light and shadow. So you have light colours like gold and dusty orange dominated by dark colours like zinc and charcoal. Similarly, glossy fabrics are juxtaposed with matte ones.
VK: My collection is prêt, with overtones of theatrical couture (like John Galliano and Christian Dior) with Victorian and Gothic inspiration through the motifs, play of volume, control pleating and other detailing. I am a perfectionist but I am open to possibilities and ongoing trends through which I seek inspiration. I have the ability to create something new and innovative after extensive research.
AS: For my LFW collection, I took old shirts from Sunday flea markets, recycled them and turned them into entirely new garments for women. I am inspired by the tradition of recycling that exists in India. For my accessories (tiffin boxes, kettles painted black) I drew inspiration from bartanwallis; ladies who would come to my house to buy old clothes and give new utensils and boxes in return. I believe in attempting the unheard of and being inspired by different experiences I encounter.

What trends do you forecast for Autumn/Winter 07?
NM:
Winter in India is the best time to flaunt your fashion accessories at leisure dos. The simple dresses of the 60s teamed with textured accessories and stockings in brilliant colours will rule the ramps this winter.
VK: I see a lot of layering, volume and detailing to be played around with dark colours like blacks, greys, maroons and berries. But I don't believe in trends; it's more about how you perceive what others have to offer.
AS: The foreign industries follow trends because that is how they work. I don't believe people do that in India.

How would you compare the Indian and Western fashion Industry?
NM:
This was my first showing apart from college shows. I have had the chance to work in close conjunction with international designers and have witnessed the seriousness of the profession in the international scenario. Although the Indian fashion industry is now adhering to the international standards of quality, it does not prevail amongst all the designers, leaving mixed views about the products from India. Fashion has become global in terms of taste, cuts and silhouettes and hence there is competition from all over the world, in terms of attractive pricing, quality and delivery dates.
VK: I believe Indian fashion has come a long way and Indian designers are at par with international standards. But there is a lack of originality here. Western designers get more exposure than their Indian counterparts.
AS: As a culture I don't think we are less talented than the western fashion industry, but I feel we lack the belief in ourselves to be on par with them. In terms of crafts, talent and design, India is exceptional but there are strict boundaries that most designers are not willing to cross. Western fashion is never limited to a certain class and they are willing to experiment.

Who are the buyers you are targeting?
NM:
I believe my collection is for the fashion forward and well-travelled women of India as well as those abroad. A number of eminent personalities and socialites have shown an interest in my garments. The textures used are both for the conservative and the experimental.
VK: To target international buyers, exceptional quality, label and design are a requirement. Currently, my label Viia is not aimed at the international buyers as it is relatively new. My target market is the high-end fashion stores in India.
AS: My collection is targeted at international buyers because it encompasses that eccentricity and individuality that they are looking for. The international buyers love the collection because it has a unique concept.

What is the one element that made your collection stand out?
NM: People liked the bubble protrusions and the earmuffs.
VK: I would say my strength lay in the detailing of the garments, which had strong designs, good quality and immaculate finishing.
AS: I chose to create a collection that evolved from recycling a shirt from a flea market which could be draped in 10 minutes and then worn as a cool cocktail dress. I think this unusual creative concept was appreciated.

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