NEW RULERS OF THE RAMP
Young designers are taking the Indian legacy forward with a contemporary spin
There’s a quiet metamorphosis that’s been shaking the roots of Indian fashion over the last few years. While once a small clutch of snobbish designers ruled the runway and catered to exclusive customers in their pricey boutiques, the changing tide has seen the emergence of a new class of hautesteppers who are not afraid of bending the rules. Many of them keep drawing inspiration from the ‘originals’ but realise that to survive, they must shrug off tried and tested formulas.
Many fashion veterans have given these rising stars their first break. While there is no denying that designers like Tarun Tahiliani, Manish Malhotra and Ritu Kumar, among others, gave shape and context to Indian fashion, they were also a product of their time; a time when there was minimal competition and fashion-conscious Indians few and far. If Manish Arora once became creative head for top international brand Paco Rabanne and put India on the global map, a young designer, Aneeth Arora, with her brand Pero, has taken the legacy forward by designing for Kate Hudson and Mira Nair’s cast and crew in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Deeply rooted in Indian tradition, handlooms and weaves, not one but two top designers—Rohit Bal and Sabyasachi Mukherjee—claim she is a design force to reckon with.
Talented designer Rahul Mishra believes in keeping a low profile and like Arora, India’s handloom heritage is the rich tapestry that he draws on to create his exquisite label. Couture king J.J. Valaya feels Mishra is someone to watch out for as he draws on the best of Indian aesthetics.
There are others like Nida Mahmood who has bagged the queen of kitsch label and got the thumbs up from designer Raghavendra Rathore. What makes her special? Her funky aesthetic, inspired from the rich, textured state of Rajasthan, has attracted big stars such as Lady Gaga who loved her ‘Jadugaar’ dress.
So what’s hot with these rising stars? Gaurav Jai Gupta’s latest collection draws on Indian textiles and gives them a contemporary spin by using clean cuts in fabrics. Rahul Mishra’s collection at the Wills India Fashion Week brings jamdanis and kutchi bandhinis back to the fore. Metallic and silver are in, while crop tops and accent neck pieces were spotted more than once on the runway.
As we toast the season’s look, the finest from India’s design fraternity do some trendspotting and shift the focus on talent that is redefining India’s fashion future.