New Wave Naga Chic

For­get Zara, wear Naga. Asa Kaz­ing­mei’s de­but at the Lakmé Fash­ion Week blends the tra­di­tions of his peo­ple with hip sen­si­bil­i­ties, says ARADHNA WAL

Tehelka - - FASHION -

WLakmé Fash­ion Week ( LFW) opened on 4 Au­gust, one set of de­signs stood out — strik­ing red and black com­bi­na­tions, run­ning mo­tifs of di­a­monds and shawls and clean lines with bold ar­chi­tec­tural struc­tures. The ap­plause and the notice peo­ple took were an ob­vi­ous tes­ta­ment to cre­ator Asa Kaz­ing­mei’s tal­ent. The 28-year-old marked his de­but as part of the Gen Next De­sign­ers, who kicked off the 2012 Win­ter/Fes­tive Edition of the LFW in Mum­bai. The de­signer from Ukhrul, Ma­nipur, has drawn on the cus­toms of his peo­ple — the Tangkhul Naga tribe — to cre­ate his col­lec­tion “Im­mor­tal”. “That is what im­pressed the panel that se­lected me for Gen Next,” he says. Over 250 as­pir­ing de­sign­ers ap­plied from all over the world. Kaz­ing­mei was one of the seven cho­sen.

As a boy, Kaz­ing­mei stitched many of his own clothes. Grow­ing up in Ma­nipur in the 1990s meant that he was on the front­line of the Hal­lyu wave, which sig­ni­fied the me­te­oric pop­u­lar­ity of South Korean mu­sic and en­ter­tain­ment. An avid watcher of Korean movies, his per­sonal look — the stylised, streaked hair, zany jack­ets and trousers, the many scarves — is in­fused with a funky K-pop vibe. His de­signs, how­ever, go close to the roots of his peo­ple. The tra­di­tional Tangkhul shawl rai­vat is made of hand­wo­ven tex­tiles and a colour pal­ette of black and red stripes. This is his ba­sic sto­ry­board. Build­ing on that, he has cre­ated dresses with un­du­lat­ing hems and high col­lars. A vivid red weave over­laid on a ba­sic black dress ref­er­ences the hand-wo­ven na­ture of the ma­te­rial. Drapes have been re­worked into broad pleats that carry zoomor­phic im­agery and tra­di­tional geo­met­ric pat- terns. The look comes across as edgy but stops short of be­ing un­re­al­is­ti­cally fu­tur­is­tic. The clean cut ren­ders it ma­jes­tic. A non-fash­ion­ista would con­sider it cool.

“It’s very dra­matic. He’s used tra­di­tional shawls and drapes to cre­ate a mod­ern gar­ment,” re­marks fash­ion jour­nal­ist Sathya Saran, who was on the ad­vi­sory board of the LFW. She adds, “He is cre­at­ing a western sil­hou­ette, be­cause there is a mar­ket for that. De­spite that, he is do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent. This is not just an­other lit­tle black dress.” Ac­cord­ing to Saran, Na­gas are a fash­ion­able peo­ple, the best dressed in any gath­er­ing. Kaz­ing­mei has wo­ven con­tem­po­rary sar­to­rial sen­si­bil­i­ties and tra­di­tional gear with aplomb. He ex­plains, “The mo­tifs are a homage to the brav­ery of my tribe’s sol­diers. And to the dig­nity of the peo­ple.” The shawl, which Kaz­ing­mei has spun into dresses, is tra­di­tion­ally worn only by the head of the house, or by the vil­lage head­man. On the ramp, it is his cheer­ful salu­ta­tion.

Kto Mum­bai in 2008 and joined the In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute of Fash­ion De­sign for a year-long pro­fes­sional course. “I’ve been in the city for five years. Ev­ery­one has al­ways sup­ported me. And I’ll be able to push my busi­ness to a big­ger scale. I am sure that in five years, I will es­tab­lish my own brand,” he says. For now, he looks to pop­u­lar up­scale brands like Diesel for in­spi­ra­tion. “Right now, Renzo Rosso is my favourite de­signer. How­ever, any de­signer as­so­ci­ated with Diesel is my favourite most of the times.”

The dreams are big and he’s got stars in his eyes. How­ever, Saran lines her praise with a warn­ing. “He needs to get his mar­ket­ing and pro­duc­tion in place and he might go far. Most young de­sign­ers fall into the same trap; they think they only need cre­ativ­ity,” she says. “If he avoids that, he could fol­low in the foot­steps of Rahul Mishra, who de­buted as a Gen Next de­signer and never looked back.” Cre­ativ­ity is not some­thing Kaz­ing­mei lacks. High-heeled drama is a req­ui­site on the ramp. How­ever, if it can be scaled back, here are de­signs that could ac­tu­ally be part of one’s wardrobe.


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