Fashion | Dissected

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Text by Sohiny Das and Photographs by Gulshan Sachdeva (WIFW), Arjun Chippalkatti (DFW, LFW) and Ranjit Sinha (KFW)
Published: Volume 17, Issue 6, June, 2009

Sifting through the countless shows and thousands of garments that were showcased at Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW), Delhi Fashion Week (DFW), Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW) and Kolkata Fashion Week (KFW), Sohiny Das picks 33 noteworthy collections, scrutinises and analyses them with a view from the past, present and future

Ethnic Appeal

Craft, desiness, tradition, application, preservation. Neo-heritage showcases some twists in conventions.

Inspiring: Layering and styling. Simple pieces add up to create stunning ensembles – genius!
Evolution: Panel play with seams and colour blocking. The ‘bell’ shape in tiered skirts and shararas. Cropped pants in block prints. Antique mirror work.
Stagnation: Colour story time warp. Similar fabrics despite changing seasons.
Wow point: Sheer skirts with boxers. Delightfully cheeky!

Fresh: A beautiful shade of turmeric yellow. Layering of shells and linings in shirt-tunics, having differently shaped hemlines.
Stale: Dhoti trousers again and predictable skirts and cholis.
Wow Point: The flamenco style, multi-tiered panelled tunics. Lovely twist to desi.

Wow points: Sheer chiffon wraps, beautiful tulip/rose embroideries.
Point to note: Reminiscent of the earlier Sabyasachi/Anamika style in terms of layering and colours.
Future: Continue the exploration of prints and embroideries, but establish more individuality overall.


Market Conscious, price conscious, yet design conscious. Indian designer pret is aiming to achieve the creative-marketable balance.

Inspiring: An excellently edited collection. As always, a great variety of separates and fabrics. Experimental yet classy prêt.
Fresh: A shade of brick/flesh is unconventional and stands out.
Wow points: Fine laser cutting, intricate pintucks on jersey.

Inspiring: A crisp, young collection from India’s oldest house. Offering variety in design but unabashedly prêt price conscious.
Evolution: Breaking away from the perennial ‘Banjara’ sensibilities. More geometric, with capsules within the collection.
Stale: The yellow-pink-orange-purple story and fabrics in part of the collection.
Wow point: Effective use of cable knits – a rarity in Indian fashion.

Inspiring: Mastery over multiple surface treatment techniques – quilting, embossing, studding, tapestry – and presenting them in a tight collection.
So-so: Multicoloured sequined dresses – too much bling. Not required.
Wow points: Pointed ‘Batman ears’ shoulders. Pattern quilting. Football dresses.

Inspiring: Displaying equal prowess in menswear and womenswear. High quality western and ethnic prêt. Every piece is desirable.
Evolution: Have introduced slouchy shapes in their predominantly sharp constructions.
Textures and embroideries are more varied.
Wow points: Beautiful batik in motifs and tights – incorporation of the capsule batik collection within the larger collection. Overall styling.

Inspiring: High street clothes one would aspire to possess! The power of simple lines – how minor manipulations in shape translate into beautiful design.
Fresh: The YSL/Piet Mondrian inspirations do not dominate, but are absorbed in Rodrick’s own style.
Wow points: Asymmetric flaps, low crotch trousers, Mondrian-inspired accessories.

Fresh: Return of leg-o-mutton sleeves. Shades of caramel and peacock blue.
Stale: Sequin sheeting never goes away. Laser cut leather scallops – beautiful, but not again!
Wow point: Caramel mannish suit teamed with bright ochre shoes.

Creative Tweak

High end, covetable and also adventurous. The beginner's step towards avant garde.

Evolution: An almost total U-turn from floral prints and toga drapes. Sharper, stronger, edgier.
Wow points: Spiderwoman-like metallic meshes (a tad Julien McDonald) in saris, trousers, dresses, waist coats.
Future: Exploration of Kabra’s sexier side.

Inspiring: A proper winterwear range (with sweaters), intensely soothing. Multiple elements very well balanced. Exploration of shapes, textures and detailing. A very complete collection.
Wow points: Giant ruffles and sudden inserts of red.

Evolution: More flow and volume, varying lengths, distinct differences since last season.
Wow point: Their take on corsetry and bodices, offering variety through details.
Future: More product range please, and less drapey jersey shifts.

Inspiring: Maturity, presentation, styling, details, range, separates, finish, creativity – marketability balance. All looked into.
Evolution: Origami in parts is supplemented by scallops, ruffles, tassles. A fine balance of glamour and intellect.
Stale: And yet again, sequin sheeting strikes! There is no escape!
Wow points: A heartbeat-stopping red origami gown! Metal paperclips for texture. The styling – cleverly economical footwear idea

Alternative Ideas

Left-lobe design, straying from convention, challenging notions, provocative yet magnetic. The forward force.

Inspiring: Endeavouring to push the envelope every time. Someone who tackles fitted and flowy with equal élan, on a variety of fabrics.
Evolution: More ‘open spaces’ instead of excessive pleats. Layering of pieces and fabrics. Usage of prints. New maturity.
Stagnation: Blingy placement embroidery that has become staple, or predictable.
Wow point: Swirling, meandering zippers used as ornamentation, in addition to function.

Inspiring: The menacing mood, the ominous edge. The looming doom. Addictive!
Evolution: Past Dior-esque corsets, an exploration of shapes, materials, construction techniques.
Wow points: The architectural treatment to fashion. Painstakingly seamed motorcycle trousers. The ‘muscle’ jacket. Giant square shapes.
Future: Some very distinct international ‘inspirations’ (Balenciaga, YSL) that need to be grown out of.

Evolution: Circular patterns continue, but in a different, less obvious form. A foray into embroidery territory. More statement prints. Winter grunge.
Stagnation: Tie dye yet again. Too much black and similar fabric palette.
Wow points: Aprons. A sheer black long dress – beautifully simple. Silver dress-form pendants. The dress-form print.
Future: Different colours and fabrics.

Inspiring: The ability to make everything seem effortless – simply beautiful. The potential of casual-dressy-casual transitions in almost every piece. Subtle detailing.
Evolution: Variety in hemlines and shapes. More range in separates. Exploring closures/fasteners as design elements.
Wow points: Beautiful safety pin and vintage medallion neckpieces. Lovely light layering. Numerous elements harmonising without clutter.
Stagnation: Repetitive fabric board. Also, continuous collections of resort can get monotonous.

Evolution: Assertive, almost subversive. Yet revered. The Samurai-sportsman theme continues, but with the entry of some Teddy Boy elements. Dark and androgynous.
Wow points: The styling, the shoes, the use of tangerine and taxi-yellow, gorgeous jacket dresses.
Future: Move away from any more zippers for a while.

Inspiring: Continuing the couture tradition, taking surface treatments to a stellar platform, international level presentation, a sense of humour.
Evolution: More jagged edges, angular shapes, digital prints.
Stagnation: Repetitive shapes through the collection. Colours.
Wow points: A pink peacock dress – breathtaking! A stunning array of multi-element combinations.
Point to note: Despite different themes, collections are starting to look similar, due to shapes, limited separates, colours and styling.

Classic Couture

The bar raisers and gurus of quality clothing. Those closest to perfection.

Stagnation: 1930s, ’40s and ’50s never cease to inspire the sisters. Season after season, vintage from the same era gets monotonous.
Nice: Staples like ruffles and cinched waists – but with excellent constructions, fits and aesthetic balance. Some variety in separates.
Future: Hopefully explore a different decade and surprise us. Better still, shock us!

Inspiring: God is in the details, in the construction, in the supreme impeccability. Every aesthetic is spot-on. Every piece is covetable. Every season.
Wow points: Intricate smocking – to die for! Metal cube jewellery. Shimmering copper jacket.
Double-edged sword: In competition with himself – sartorially spectacular, but safely below his own raised bar of expectations.

Inspiring: Every piece is beautifully desirable, possessing the finesse that many established designers strive for.
Evolution: Foray into embroidery zone. A clear seasonal distinction. More glamorous, yet ultra chic.
So-so: Despite the self confessed modern ‘YSL tribute’, there was no novel twist. Derived and safe, lacking excitement.

Evolution: Structure meets drape. Geometry meets fluidity. There are more than just empire dresses and princess coats.
Stagnation: Apart from gold, it is a very tried, tested and repeated colour story. Measured tweaking of styles in some cases, just about making it past repetitive.
Wow points: A loud gold pleated cropped top. A giant sleeved cream jacket.

Evolution: She can do much more than classic resort and drapey dresses. Digital prints and newer fabrics. Attention to quality accessories.
So-so: Some predictable gathered shift dresses, continuation of the satin saga.
Wow points: Giant kimono sleeves, metallic mesh dresses, leather tights.

Texture Tales

Surface treatments get more multi-layered each season with explorations of new techniques and materials in combination with old forms and embroideries

Stagnation: The overall look has been the same for long. Shift dresses still dominate. Textures, though beautiful, look similar to Winter 2008.
Wow point: A hexagon textured armour dress.
Future: Some placement textures. More explorations of shapes. Layering of pieces. Expansion of product range.

Inspiring: A total package of beautiful textures, adventurous shapes, quirky detailing and focused styling. All harmonising well.
Evolution: More layers, more separates, changing shapes, a distinct winter feel.
Stagnation: Colours, fabrics and textures need variation, despite being beautiful. Need to move beyond resist dye and discharge print in future.
Wow points: Layered shadow plays caused by dyeing and overprinting, especially large checks. Evoking dreamy childhood memories through colour.

Inspiring: Explorations in knitwear continue every season. Good news for Indian fashion.
Wow points: Disc inserts in knits, multicoloured fleece-like textures, placement quilting.
Not so great: Random drapes, over embellishment, juvenile styling.
Future: Continue with knitwear developments, but with cleaner lines and eliminate clutter.

Evolution: More variety in textures – jigsaw joints, ikat embroideries, appliqués, multi-layered strips – in jewel tones, and a sharper, crisper silhouette.
Stagnation: Only dresses and jackets in straight shapes tend to get monotonous. A touch of Winter 2008 is still very evident.
Future: More exploration of shapes and layering. Perhaps placement (rather than allover) textures in a few pieces.

Wow points: Digital prints – cosmic explorations, op-art, beautiful colour shading.
Point to note: Again, similar dresses and jackets throughout the collection. Shapes, lengths, detailing – highly repetitive.

Mixed Bag

Evoked kudos and 'could be better' alike. Partly exceptional yet not quite on target.

Evolution: Signature Grecian drapes are complemented by structure this time. Unconventional pairing of separates. Measured risks in terms of shapes and volume.
Wow point: Very fine, long fringes in saris and dresses that sway beautifully with movement.
So-so: Some out of place caftans and colourful tribal elements that seem forced.

Inspirational: The brand’s non-conformist ethos, attention to the overall look, accessories, show presentation and the ‘cult’ value. Spunky!
Evolution: More colour, more prints, more variety in fabrics.
Stagnation: Repetitive styles and retention of the ‘student’ sensibility.
Double-edged sword: The careless drapes and non-pretty detailing work wonderfully, but sometimes border on unplanned mish-mash.

Inspiring: Incredible detail in each piece. Construction prowess. Great finish.
Evolution: Some off-the-body shapes and drapes.
Stagnation: Fabrics and colours give us a déjà vu feel.
Gone awry: Detailed pieces teamed together (individually beautiful, combined, too much!), overly accessorised. End result – overwhelmingly theatrical.

Evolution: Finally, a distinct style – cleaner, simpler, comfortable.
Stagnation: Colours remain unchanged three years in a row. Embroidery motifs and textures remind of past collections.
Point to note: Beautiful jackets and a few palazzos, but not much else. Very limited product range.
Wow points: Wispy layers of chiffon flowing ethereally. Cocoon jackets.

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