Day 1: Great mix of the old & new

A posse of men dressed in black and grey walked together, their faces grim, their jackets sharply tailored, beautifully structured layers worn beneath. Day one of the winter/festive edition of the Lakme Fashion Week 2013 began on a stark note with Gen Next designer Nitin Chawla’s line.

But the mood wasn’t to remain dark for very long — the ramp embraced a burst of colour and a rather more upbeat energy with Rixi Bhatia and Jayesh Sachdev’s Quirkbox line. The kitschy motifs the label is famous for, found expression in smart Western women’s wear, suits, shorts and shirts for men and a sari worn by the very lovely showstopper, Deepti Gujral.
Rixi and Jayesh, whose Quirkbox has proved surprisingly popular in the two years that the label has been around, are firm believers in the concept of “wearable art” and said, “The original prints designed in-house, is our key. Our prints are fun and quirky, our fabrics are easy, non-fussy, our silhouettes are adaptable to most body types; in addition our prices do not pinch your pocket.” The work of other Gen Next designers like Pronoy Kapoor and Aiman Agha and Armaan Randhawa, that drew on greys, black and white, also showed plenty of promise.
It was time for another set of young designers to showcase their talent during the early afternoon shows. Nishka Lulla, Nikhil Thampi and Nimish Shah presented lines that were very different in tone: While Nikhil’s line was a dramatic melange of gold against a backdrop of black and white, with a motif of the mask of a Kathakali dancer repeated ingeniously across garments, Nishka’s collection comprised mostly separates, in pastel shades, with extensive layering. Nishka said her line represented the ethos of her label, which was, “sticking to clean and simple lines”. “(The line) taps into attributes such as comfort, flexibility and a certain nonchalance,” she said. The post-lunch show had Debarun Mukherjee, Vijay Balhara and Shilpa Reddy display their lines. Each designer represented a “seismic shift” — Debarun’s silhouettes were voluminous for the women and fitted for the men, and his use of red, gold and cream in fabrics such as tassar and matka silk and velvet, imparted a look of extreme luxury to his layered dresses, saris, lehengas and bandhgalas and sherwanis. Appearing immediately afterward, Vijay Balhara’s predominantly cocktail-wear line was full of cool whites and aquamarines, sparkly jackets teamed with flowing skirts of a vintage style. Shilpa Reddy’s high-on-bling line represented a complete contrast. Called “Suryothai”, the line took its inspiration a little too literally and the curled corners of pagoda rooftops were reflected in exaggerated shoulders, ample use of net and crepe, typical Thai silhouettes and embellishments.
“A lot of people have touched on African, Greek, tribal and Roman influences, but I believe a Thai-inspired collection is unique,” Shilpa said. Noteworthy on day one was Payal Singhal’s Chaar Baagh line: In a colour palette of blush pink, beige and black and fabrics like silk mul, cotton and crepe silk, Payal’s line married soft feminine silhouettes with structured graphic motifs.
Soon after, Priyadarshini Rao showcased a bright line of mix and match kurtis, saris and jackets that were inspired by the idea of a “caravan serai” and featured lots of block-printed mul, embroidered silks and brocades mixed with georgettes and chanderis. With shows by Ranna Gill and Anita Dongre scheduled for later in the evening, day one represented a great mix of the conventional and the contemporary.

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