Ex­otic flair

For deep­avali, con­sider con­tem­po­rary out­fits that evoke the rich­ness of In­dia.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By SHARMILLA GANE­SAN star2@thes­tar.com.my

To add a hint of spice to your en­sem­ble, cast your eyes to­wards In­dia.

SA­REES, se­quins and shawls are the first things that come to mind when one thinks of In­dia’s in­flu­ence on the world of fash­ion.

What many peo­ple don’t re­alise is that in­spi­ra­tion from In­dia has been sprin­kling the vi­sions of fash­ion mavens for cen­turies, and we’re not just talk­ing about tra­di­tional or eth­nic at­tire.

From pais­ley de­signs and or­nate bead­work to nehru col­lars and peas­ant skirts to khadi (hand­spun cotton) and linen, the South Asian touch is very vis­i­ble in modern fash­ion world­wide. And with Deep­avali just two weeks away, now’s the per­fect time to cel­e­brate this trend.

Lo­cally, how­ever, those who crave for a bit of the Bharat in their wardrobe are of­ten left with only a few pre­dictable choices. One can, of course, pick up a kurti (tu­nic-like tops with In­dian mo­tifs) or two from the many shops and stalls around, or even go for a sal­war kameez (Pun­jabi suit) or sa­ree. But these are gen­er­ally per­ceived more as “tra­di­tional wear”. What about those of us who want modern or con­tem­po­rary out­fits that nev­er­the­less still evoke the rich fash­ion pos­si­bil­i­ties of In­dia?

This was ex­actly the dilemma that in­spired friends Sashikala Menon and Je­gadeeswari Vi­jayaku­mar to start up their own online cloth­ing bou­tique, Akhil (akhil.my).

“We got talk­ing about how dif­fi­cult it was to find modern clothes with that In­dian touch here. You see a lot of kur­tis, but they of­ten look very tra­di­tional. We re­ally wanted some­thing more rel­e­vant,” ex­plains Sashikala.

Start­ing their busi­ness in Au­gust 2010 with ready-made pieces im­ported from In­dia, the duo launched clothes of their own de­sign ear­lier this year, in­spired by what they them­selves would wear.

“We browse the In­ter­net and var­i­ous magazines for ideas, and we also look at Western de­signs and see how we can add some In­dian el­e­ments. But most im­por­tantly, we think about what we and the women around us would want to wear,” says Sashikala. “Our main aim is to be com­fort­able yet con­tem­po­rary, and to show that you can in­cor­po­rate In­dia into your out­fit with­out yelling out ‘I’m In­dian!’”

Hav­ing come up with the de­signs, Sashikala and Je­gadeeswari then source for fab­rics from In­dia and work with a tai­lor there to get the pieces made.

Fea­tur­ing dresses and tops in com­fort­able cotton, Akhil’s de­signs blend South Asian prints with el­e­ments like batik and flo­rals to cre­ate a modern look. Tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the kurti, their flirty tu­nic dress can be worn as it is or paired with tights. In other de­signs, modern sil­hou­ettes are en­hanced by sub­tle gold em­bel­lish­ments. Bold colours like ma­roon, orange and teal fur­ther add ad­ven­ture to ca­sual pieces.

If cou­ture is your cup of chai, look no fur­ther than lo­cal fash­ion de­signer Syomir Izwa. His ex­ten­sive use of pleat­ing and drap­ing in his cre­ations hark back to el­e­gant In­dian queens swathed in breath­tak­ing sa­rees – lit­tle won­der that he even dubbed one of his lines the “Ma­ha­rani col­lec­tion”.

Syomir, who has been de­sign­ing for eight years, de­buted in the fash­ion in­dus­try in 2009, and has since gath­ered an ex­ten­sive list of well-known clients, par­tic­u­larly for wed­ding cou­ture. The de­signer cred­its his halfIn­dian fam­ily back­ground for in­spir­ing his fas­ci­na­tion with the sub­con­ti­nent, but stresses that he wants to cre­ate In­di­an­in­spired looks that are more modern and less eth­ni­cally-spe­cific.

“The In­dian in­spi­ra­tion can be done in many ways, it doesn’t have to just be about us­ing sa­ree fab­ric or bead­ing,” Syomir says. “I try to ex­plore pleat­ing and drap­ing.

The way the sa­ree is draped, its move­ments, can be found in my dresses and even my baju ku­rung. I even use pleat­ing in harem pants or dress pants to add de­tail.”

He also finds creative im­pe­tus in leg­ends and sto­ries from In­dia; a gor­geously-draped hot orange-and-gold modern ku­rung, for ex­am­ple, is in­spired by the story of Prince Sid­dharta. Other de­signs may not boast an im­me­di­ate In­dian con­nec­tion, but hint at sub­tle links, such as a sul­try navy blue evening gown which takes its sil­hou­ette and drap­ing

from a sa­ree.

Lo­cal online re­tailer In­di­fash­ion (in­di­fash ion.my), on the other hand, of­fers out­fits that boast a dis­tinctly In­dian look but with a modern flair. Most at­trac­tive are their range of ver­sa­tile tu­nic dresses, which can also be worn with tights or jeans. Im­ported from In­dia, their Indo Western range fea­tures uniquely In­dian fab­rics and em­bel­lish­ments on tops and dresses that es­chew the usual kurti sil­hou­ette for more con­tem­po­rary styles like baby-doll or A-line cuts.

Typ­i­cally In­dian de­tail­ing like me­tal­lic threads, bead­work, em­broi­dery and busy prints, are used to jazz up the de­sign fur­ther, such as a fawn-coloured dress in crushed art silk, em­bel­lished with green and gold fab­ric and me­tal­lic em­broi­dery. In other de­signs, sum­mery flo­ral dresses are giv­ing an In­dian touch with the ad­di­tion of sub­tle me­tal­lic fab­ric or em­broi­dery.

For Les­lie Variyan, de­signer of home­grown la­bel Vari­ante, the In­dian in­flu­ence in his cre­ations is not a con­scious ef­fort, but rather, some­thing that flows nat­u­rally.

“I’m In­dian and I think the sa­ree is one sexy out­fit! I also want to bring a lit­tle cul­ture into the modern world. So while my de­signs are not meant to look like sa­rees, they are of­ten in­spired by them in some way,” shares Les­lie, who es­tab­lished Vari­ante in 2005 af­ter be­ing in the lo­cal fash­ion in­dus­try for 14 years.

Les­lie’s de­signs run the gamut from chic tops and pants to ca­sual dresses to flow­ing evening gowns. Some boldly de­clare their In­dian roots, like a dark green an­i­mal-print, one-shoul­dered gown that is ob­vi­ously sa­reein­spired, while oth­ers whis­per of eth­nic touches, such as a chic teal top with orange ac­cents and un­struc­tured white pants.

Known for his flowy, ethe­real de­sign aes­thetic, he says his in­spi­ra­tions from In­dia are most ap­par­ent in his use of colour.

“My choice of colours is of­ten bold and dar­ing, I don’t like to stop half­way,” says Les­lie, whose bou­tique is lo­cated in Pav­il­ion Kuala Lumpur. “I love that about In­dia, only they are dar­ing enough to com­bine turquoise and fuch­sia or orange and green!”

His use of heavy bead­work, too, is rem­i­nis­cent of the stone-and bead-en­crusted fin­ery of In­dia.

“Look at In­dian jew­ellery. It’s never just one pearl, it’s al­ways a few things at once. Beads and jew­els are of­ten very big, and you can never have too much. I love bring­ing that glam­our into my cre­ations,” ex­plains Les­lie.

Fes­tive mood: Modern ku­rung by Syomir Izwa that dis­plays its In­dian in­spi­ra­tions in its bold colour, drap­ing and chunky bead­work.

evening dress from Syomir Izwa’s Ma­ha­rani col­lec­tion. (Pic right) Tu­nic dress from In­di­fash­ion is jazzed up with fuschia edg­ing, colour­ful em­broi­dery and funky de­tail­ing.

This an­i­mal-print gown by Les­lie Variyan takes its in­spi­ra­tion from In­dia with its use of chunky bead­work and drap­ing rem­i­nis­cent of a sa­ree.

Tu­nic dress from online re­tailer In­di­fash­ion. Paired with jeans or tights, it can also be worn as a top.

blaze by online re­tailer akhil blends tra­di­tional batik with a funky de­sign and typ­i­cal In­dian gold de­tail­ing in a cotton-cam­bric piece that can be worn as a dress or top.

(Pic be­low) dra­matic red and black en­sem­ble by Les­lie Variyan.

em­bel­lished hem and quilted front add a tra­di­tional touch to this dress from In­di­fash­ion.

Gown with flow­ing sleeves by Les­lie Variyan.

The de­tail­ing on this dress from In­di­fash­ion en­hances its earthy flo­ral print.

also from akhil, amaze

black (pic left) is a cot­ton­vis­cose and cotton cam­bric tu­nic top with batik de­tail­ing and em­broi­dered In­dian pais­ley de­sign on the back while

Jolie is a cotton voile top with eth­nic In­dian print.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.