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Six Days Of Summer
Text by Sohiny Das
Published: Volume 19, Issue 5, May, 2011
An enchanting offsite opening show, some strong showings by both biggies and emerging talents, a natural calamity in the Far East, the change in the management of the organisers, international participants at an Indian fashion event, corporate sponsors pumping in show funds as branding exercises, inconspicuous ‘celebrities’ on the runway, cutting-edge accessory presentations, fall/winter showcasings, an extravagant finale – Lakmé Fashion Week Summer Resort 2011 gave us a lot to talk about. Sohiny Das lists the highlights of the event in detail

Anamika Khanna
The offsite opening show had an ethnic androgyny theme running strong. Predominantly in the Khanna palette of monochrome, the part Edwardian, part Nawabi, part vintage grunge shapes appealed with their simplicity, cleverly light layering and the luxuriously nonchalant styling. Distressed and layered textures seemed like a prêt extension of last year’s couture range. Deliciously ‘old-looking’ prints, graphic resist dyes and sudden inserts of colour gave the show some surprise jolts.

In the grim aftermath of Japan’s worst-ever tsunami and amidst animated discussions regarding the ‘end of the world in 2012’, three Nippon talents grittily redefined the phrase – ‘the show must go on’. Araisara, Motonari Ono and Somarta showcased their Summer 2011 lines as part of LFW’s endeavour to introduce global design to an Indian audience. Those expecting some dramatic ‘avant garde’ fare were surprised to see ‘normal’, well-constructed, retail-friendly prêt, with just enough quirk-art quotient (especially in garment detailing) to create an atmosphere. After Christopher Kane’s show two season’s back, the Japanese presentation was another step towards a more global Indian fashion week.

Though this appeared to be an Autumn/Winter line, after long, we saw a slightly kooky side of Mukherjee, who seemed to have had some fun with this collection, entitled ‘Sunderbans’ (for the Aircel ‘Save the Tigers’ campaign). Taking the sepia toning of his colour-board partly off, he unleashed some unrestrained brights, skilfully placing them to create some wonderful ‘colourburst’ moments. The large tiger motif, vivid floral prints and giant appliquéd rosette bustiers were very tongue-in-cheek. Mermaid lehngas with trenches, mini saris over shararas, paired exits and an upbeat vibe kept the ever-present Kahlo spirit young at heart.

Kallol Datta 1955
The future sometimes receives guidance from the past, and for the DHL Future of Fashion show, Datta dug into his shape and print archives, presenting them in the international courier company’s logo colours, following up with his own shades. The grunge boy with a penchant for black humour even used the red and yellow DHL tape to cover the models’ shoes – a ‘thank you’ or some tongue-in-cheek irony? One can only guess. The final garment – a dress with a long braid hanging off the back, was ‘homage’ to veteran journalist Sathya Saran’s distinctive hairstyle. Only that she was missing from the front row at the show.

Atsu Sekhose made his Mumbai runway debut with the DHL Future of Fashion Show with a softer, more resort version of his elegantly tailored separates. Coordinated long-shirts and trousers were almost holistic with their fluid lines. Lady-like to androgynous ensembles appealed with their clean constructions. Lovely light jackets and silk trenches made for some cool summer layering. The more Bohemian, crushed and tiered maxi dresses were a little too generic for someone who is known for his individual take on the classics.

Breathing Space
Jewellery with a message, albeit a little too direct. Eina Ahluwalia’s crusade against domestic violence in India stuck to certain clichés like Goddesses Durga and Kali and their weaponry, as well as the Sikh kirpan – all crafted as subversive versions of trousseau jewellery, complete with a skull mangalsutra. But the show was gripping, the voice was hard-hitting and the desi-punk appeal was addictive. Beautifully done fret work and finely hand-cut text emphasised on quality and detail. Focussed from start to finish – avoiding the tanking up urges – a tight yet varied range.

Suhani Pittie
Urban infrastructure – metal reinforcements used in construction, steel twine, pipes, sheets, nuts, bolts – was the inspiration. Pittie’s real estate components bordered on punk, with some tribal and ethnic elements, which are staples of her personality. Ghungroos and spikes co-existed. Painted metal was deceptively pop. A variety of products and textures within the range which could have been better and more thematically bound. But the clothes by Anamika Khanna and Arjun Saluja – beautifully detailed as they were – took away much of the focus from the jewellery. Where they should have supplemented, they tended to dominate.

Anand Kabra
A collection specially created to showcase the five hair trends presented by Lakmé Studio for the ‘Sleek, The New Mystique’ campaign. In ‘total recall’ style, it was an amalgamation of memorable Kabra elements over the seasons – resist dyeing, digital prints, metallic textures, the juxtaposition of drape with crisp constructions and non-conformist ethnic separates. The five mini collections offered distinctly different products, ranging from simple to ornate and muted to bling. The hair trends – as elaborately experimental as they were – fell a little short of cutting-edge.

Shivan & Narresh
Formerly known as ‘Shrivannarresh’, the country’s most cutting-edge swimwear brand stepped outside their specialty pool and attempted to create a ripple in the ready-to-wear (for land) arena as well. Though the colour-blocked and panelled aesthetic from previous seasons continued to be their mainstay, the duo expanded their repertoire and offered a variety of tailored separates, accessories and jewellery. A complete cruise brand in the making? Time will tell.

Amalraj Sengupta
The young designer’s futurist-Samurai sensibility reminded in parts of Arjun Saluja’s earlier days. Impressive in parts for his pattern-cutting prowess, his aesthetic was better represented in his menswear as compared to his women’s creations. He seems to be quietly asserting his presence over the seasons, though the pieces were somewhat inappropriate on a summer/resort platform.

Kiran Jaisinghani and Meghna Agarwal went beyond maxi dresses and introduced other apparel pieces, for a layered yet light Winter 2011 presentation, which was more androgynous and slightly darker than their previous lines. Their signature block prints and handspun silks retained the soothing, artsy feel.

Rachana Reddy
While the show failed to make much impact, a closer observation of the products at the booth revealed carefully-planned, highly-technical and well-executed designs. Laser-cut, carved wood box clutches with fabric insertions had the sort of veteran polish and quality which are rare in first timers’ works.

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