FASH­ION FOR­WARD

Lakmé Fash­ion Week A/W 2017 saw some great col­lec­tions from Mar­wari de­sign­ers, who beau­ti­fully com­bined tra­di­tion with im­pec­ca­ble style. MARWAR spoke to three of them about the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of fash­ion wear among Mar­waris and also about wed­ding wear

Marwar - - Contents - Text Joseph Rozario

Lakmé Fash­ion Week A/W 2017 saw some great col­lec­tions from Mar­wari de­sign­ers. MARWAR spoke to three of them about the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of fash­ion wear among Mar­waris and also about this year’s wed­ding wear trends.

There was a time when Mar­waris sel­dom, if ever, ven­tured into the busi­ness of de­sign­ing clothes. The last cou­ple of decades, how­ever, have seen a sea change, and to­day not only is the com­mu­nity wit­ness­ing an ex­plo­sion of de­sign­ers and de­signer wear, but the fairer sex has joined in too—and in fair num­bers. The glam­our quo­tient of de­signer wear has given the busi­ness of de­sign­ing a fur­ther leg up, ex­plain­ing the huge pop­u­lar­ity of haute cou­ture and fash­ion shows.

Among the plethora of fash­ion shows, the Lakmé Fash­ion Week stands out as a more pop­u­lar and bet­ter known one, which over the years has evolved into a grand cel­e­bra­tion of glam­our and fash­ion. As one of the biggest plat­forms for the fash­ion in­dus­try, it wit­nesses a steady stream of es­tab­lished and promis­ing de­sign­ers show­cas­ing their cre­ations ev­ery year, in­clud­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of Mar­wari de­sign­ers. Lakmé Fash­ion Week A/W ’17, for ex­am­ple, saw Mar­wari de­sign­ers Sailesh Sing­ha­nia, Neha Agar­wal and Manoj Agar­rwal flaunt their cre­ations, among oth­ers. The three de­sign­ers spoke to us about the pop­u­lar­ity of fash­ion wear among Mar­waris and wed­ding wear trends, dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­ac­tion.

Art, em­broi­dery and sporty sil­hou­ettes

Hyderabad-based de­signer Neha Agar­wal, who has show­cased her cre­ations a cou­ple of times ear­lier at the Lakmé Fash­ion Week, was there to show­case her evening wear col­lec­tion themed ‘Mithila in Soho’, which stood out for its hand-em­broi­dered Mad­hubani Art mo­tifs. The col­lec­tion, ac­cord­ing to the de­signer, was aimed at pop­u­lar­is­ing the splen­dour of tra­di­tional Mad­hubani Art among fash­ion for­ward women of 2018. Each gar­ment of the col­lec­tion was hand em­broi­dered, de­pict­ing the kitschi­est mo­tifs of Mad­hubani Art, mar­ry­ing In­dian art to mod­ern sporty sil­hou­ettes. Colours ranged from in­digo, ochre and terra-cotta to warmer tones like ch­est­nut, bur­gundy and ver­mil­lion, with de­tails such as ribs in col­lars, pan­els and plack­ets.

Asked about fash­ion trends, the ver­sa­tile de­signer, who has stud­ied de­sign­ing at NIFT, Hyderabad, said, “I see lot of knitwear com­ing in 2017, and I am cur­rently work­ing on knitwear which has a lot of In­dian aes­thetic and mod­ern wear and a lot of fu­sion. Bell bot­toms, corset tops and sa­rees are also com­ing back.”

And what about wed­ding wear, this be­ing the wed­ding sea­son? “Wed­dings have al­ways been grand in In­dia and will be,” she said.

In­spired by two mighty dy­nas­ties, the Mughals and the Ra­jputs, ev­ery en­sem­ble in the col­lec­tion was a flu­ent amal­ga­ma­tion and in­te­gra­tion of in­flu­ences from each other

“Even now fash­ion is in­spired by Mus­lim cul­ture and lots of fu­sion of cul­tures. Clas­sic sil­hou­ette shararas and gowns should def­i­nitely be in­cluded in your shop­ping list. Also, I be­lieve in pas­tel colours.”

The time­less ap­peal of hand­loom

De­signer Sailesh Sing­ha­nia, who is pas­sion­ate about hand­looms, show­cased ‘The Win­ter Rose’ col­lec­tion at the Lakmé Fash­ion Week, which had a dis­tinct West­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the sa­ree, re­flect­ing the glam­our and opulence of In­dian princesses trav­el­ling to the West. Worn to ac­cli­ma­tise to the colder, windy climes of Lon­don and Paris, the col­lec­tion com­prised West­ern sil­hou­ettes with long over­coats, trench coats and pea coats with high col­lars. The col­lec­tion pushed the bound­aries of per­cep­tion of hand-wo­ven tex­tiles by in­fus­ing play­ful­ness, while re­tain­ing the high­est qual­ity of crafts­man­ship.

For Sing­ha­nia, who also is from Hyderabad, the fash­ion trends for 2017 in­cluded sa­rees with con­tem­po­rary blouses such as cold shoul­der and or­ganza blouses, while in colder cities like Delhi, bro­cade jack­ets were be­ing paired with sa­rees and lehen­gas for win­ter wed­dings. The de­signer’s pas­sion for hand­loom sa­rees shows when he says, “Hand­loom sa­rees have taken over this wed­ding sea­son and they should def­i­nitely be in­cluded in your shop­ping list. Gone are those days when blingy sa­rees were pre­ferred to make a state­ment. Nowa­days hand­loom sa­rees are con­sid­ered very classy and can be worn at grand wed­ding cel­e­bra­tions. They are time­less in their ap­peal and can be worn by women of dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions.”

Cross-cul­tural in­flu­ences

Kolkata de­signer Manoj Agar­rwal’s ‘Jod­haa’ col­lec­tion was like­wise rooted in tra­di­tion. In­spired by two mighty dy­nas­ties, the Mughals and the Ra­jputs, ev­ery en­sem­ble in the col­lec­tion was a flu­ent amal­ga­ma­tion and in­te­gra­tion of in­flu­ences from each other—the Mughals’ ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the finer things of life and the Ra­jputs’ love for beauty, el­e­gance and fine de­tail­ing. The re­sult was beau­ti­ful Ra­jasthani weaves in warm tones of saf­fron, emer­ald, cop­per, brown and henna red, with a red veil epit­o­mis­ing each en­sem­ble.

A self-made de­signer who has de­signed for Bol­ly­wood stars, Agar­rwal feels this cen­tury is in­spired by the vin­tage

Each gar­ment of the col­lec­tion was hand em­broi­dered, de­pict­ing the kitschi­est mo­tifs of Mad­hubani Art

era, and this year is for ev­ery­thing raw. “Not just the fash­ion in­dus­try, but pre­sen­ta­tions in most in­dus­tries have gone back to raw, for ex­am­ple—even the food in­dus­try,” he says. “It’s a time where peo­ple are look­ing for new con­cepts, keep­ing the tra­di­tions alive at the same time.”

As for his take on the wed­ding sea­son, he prefers to dress his brides and grooms in new mod­ern earthy colours like Per­sian blues and evening husks, adorn­ing them with tra­di­tional coloured em­broi­deries.

Mar­waris and fash­ion

Asked about Mar­waris’ grow­ing love for fash­ion, all the three de­sign­ers felt that de­signer clothes, es­pe­cially tra­di­tional wear, have al­ways been pop­u­lar among Mar­waris. Neha Agar­wal, for in­stance, says, “I think fash­ion and Mar­waris go hand in hand. They have an amaz­ing eye for de­tail, colour, sil­hou­ette and great em­broi­dery, and they have al­ways in­vested in high-end and qual­ity gar­ments.”

Re­flect­ing sim­i­lar views, Sailesh Sing­ha­nia says, “Mar­waris are the bon vi­vants of In­dian so­ci­ety and their flam­boy­ant flair for style is vis­i­ble not only in the gar­ments they wear but also in their jew­ellery, their par­ties, homes and ac­ces­sories. We have a grow­ing fan fol­low­ing among Mar­waris who trea­sure our col­lec­tion of heir­loom sa­rees in vi­brant hues of mul­berry silk.”

Manoj Agar­rwal’s views sim­i­larly echo Mar­waris’ love for tra­di­tional wear, es­pe­cially de­signer wear with tra­di­tional touches of Ba­narasi, band­hani and ghatchola em­broi­deries.

De­sign­ers Neha Agar­wal, Sailesh Sing­ha­nia and Manoj Agar­rwal are just a rep­re­sen­ta­tive slice of the world of Mar­wari cou­turi­ers. As more and more Mar­waris’ opt for de­signer wear for wed­dings and other spe­cial oc­ca­sions, the num­ber of Mar­wari de­sign­ers is likely to rise in the years to come; and the Lakmé Fash­ion Week and other pop­u­lar shows point towards this trend.

De­signer Sailesh Sing­ha­nia, who is pas­sion­ate about hand­looms, show­cased ' The Win­ter Rose' col­lec­tion at the Lakmé Fash­ion Week, which had a dis­tinct West­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the sa­ree

Clock­wise from top, left: Show­stop­per Chi­tran­gada Singh flaunt­ing a Neha Agar­wal cre­ation at Lakmé Fash­ion Week; a model in a 'Mithila in Soho' cre­ation by Neha Agar­wal; De­signer Neha Agar­wal

Top: Manoj Agar­rwal with show­stop­per Elli Avram and other mod­els show­cas­ing the de­signer's cre­ations at Lakmé Fash­ion Week

Clock­wise from top, left: A model show­cas­ing a Sailesh Sing­ha­nia cre­ation at the Lakmé Fash­ion Week; a model in a cre­ation from 'The Win­ter Rose' col­lec­tion by Sing­ha­nia; De­signer Sailesh Sing­ha­nia

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