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Brunch Focus: The final word on AIFW Spring/Summer ’17

A lowdown on what you should take away from the just concluded edition of AIFW Spring/Summer ’17

brunch Updated: Oct 22, 2016 19:19 IST

Now that the stardust around Amazon India Fashion Week in association with Maybelline New York Spring Summer ’17 (AIFWSS’17) has dispersed, here’s a lowdown on what you should take away from it all

A Glitzy Grand Finale: Guru, shishya, glimmer and shimmer

Designers Alpana and Neeraj with their mentor for the Grand Finale, JJ Valaya (Waseem Gashroo)

Pick a dazzling set from any Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, and place it at the Grand Finale of the AIFWSS’17 by JJ Valaya and Alpana-Neeraj. What you get is a spectacular catwalk in all hues of glimmer and bling. Even the show starts off with a very Bhansali-style music and dance routine – a welcome break from the ramp walks of the last five days, really.

When the models finally walk in, your eyes are greeted with another heavy dose of bling. All the lines are inspired by the nomadic tribes of Kutch and the Ranas of Nepal. It isn’t surprising then that the entire collection is heavy on intricate embroidery and minute mirror-work.

Centred around the guru-shishya parampara of yore, the show saw Valaya acting as mentor to the two young designers. “Our inherent style is very different from JJ’s,” says Alpana Mittal of Alpana-Neeraj. “But he extended his mentorship by sharing his moodboard, colour story, etc so that we could understand exactly where his inspiration came from.”

The duo then took inspiration from Valaya’s inspirations and interpreted them in their own way. “Our styles were completely contrasting in aesthetics; nobody would think of putting them together in one show. But it came out looking harmonious.”

What, on first look, seemed too traditional was actually quite modern on closer inspection, with Valaya’s signature conventional silhouettes offset by Alpana-Neeraj’s modern, architectural cuts. The collection was an opulent ode to the theme of the finale – India Modern Festive. And the grand finale in itself was an extravagant fest of splendour and craftsmanship.

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A High Street High: A fun debut show with some everyday clothes

Designers Bhavana Pandey, Nandita Mahtani and Dolly Sidhwani of Love Generation, with the showstopper – actress Disha Patani (second from right)

In any fashion show, you’d usually have a model sashay in with a strict, no-smile expression. At Love Generation’s debut show though, we had actress Disha Patani (who just appeared in the Dhoni biopic) standing, posing and being waited upon by a makeup artist, a hairdresser and a photographer. And surprise – she was smiling, pouting and air-kissing too!

You must have guessed by now that this was all kinds of fun. Peppy dance hits of the year; an audience clapping, hooting; and models who seemed to be actually having a good time on the ramp. Hell, one even kept blowing kisses at former model and actor Dino Morea in the front row. Amidst the gimmickry, one would be tempted to wonder if this was all but a distraction from what should have been the show stealer: the garments.

Because, when you actually spared a look at the outfits, they seemed like everyday clothing, sans the intricacies or glamour you usually see at fashion weeks. Even Bhavana Pandey, one among the trio of designers that constitutes the label, agrees. “Our clothes are not something that you can keep looking at; they don’t have intricate detailing or embroidery. So the show had to have an element of fun to make sure the people didn’t get bored,” she says.

Consisting mainly of high street staples, such as off-shoulder tops, denim dresses, checked shirt-dresses etc, the collection was familiar for anyone who loves scouring the streets for fashion. “The idea was to make the collection wearable – something you’d wear daily in your life,” says Pandey. “We felt there is a gap in the Indian market when it comes to home-grown high street brands. We have international brands, like H&M and Zara, but there’s no brand made in India that is trendy, fun and competes with these foreign brands.”

The Gentleman’s Corner: Highlights from two power-packed menswear shows

Rajesh Pratap Singh & Ashish N Soni

The first menswear show of this season was all shades of black, white and fabulous! Presented by two of the most prominent couturiers of the country, the collections were based on a moodboard of black and white, chrome and metallic, and linear patterns. But if anyone could break the monotony of a black-and-white colour palette, it would be Rajesh Pratap Singh and Ashish N Soni.

Rajesh Pratap Singh used wool-ikat blends in modern silhouettes (Waseem Gashroo)

Singh’s men were all about asymmetry and bold graphics; the monochromatic look was broken by stripes, plaids and tartan checks. And there was a splattering of polka dots too. And no, he didn’t think twice before putting all of these patterns on a single garment at times – they came out looking anything but misplaced. Singh took blazers, salvation army jackets, lounge pants and other such silhouettes, and paired them with sturdy boots and untreated, raw silver jewellery. The ultimate look was rugged and understated, yet very confident. The surprise was what looked like the use of wool for a spring/summer collection – it was Singh’s signature hand-woven wool-ikat blend, in fact.

The monochromatic moodboard was perfect fuel for Ashish N Soni’s minimalistic design sensibilities. His men blazed the ramp in some very fresh silhouettes. There were bow ties over kurtas instead of a conventional shirt; double-breasted jackets cut really short; and the most interesting of them all – puddle pants. “I was bored of the fitted trouser look, so I came up with the concept of the ‘puddle pant’ – an adaptation of flared pants with some drama at the bottom,” says Soni. The style is meant to be a break from the conventional cuts reserved for men and to bring some visual excitement to the bottom.

Puddle pants by Ashish N Soni (Waseem Gashroo)

Like Singh’s use of a traditional ikat blend in modern silhouettes, Soni too used conventional embroidery techniques in modern designs. “I took antique zardozi and dyed it a chrome colour. And unlike how it’s done on lehengas, I did zardozi embroidery on lapels instead,” he says. This was Soni’s way of interpreting “India Modern”, the theme of AIFWSS’17 – taking traditional arts and lending them a very global look.

Men in Fashion

Three very gifted menswear designers of today got together for this one show, and we were delivered a powerful dose of subtle, suave and sexy. Dhruv Vaish took the colours and vibrancy of Cuba and captured them in rainbow-striped ensembles, among others. Done any differently, these could’ve come out clownish. But Vaish managed to make them look remarkable by offsetting the stripes with strong solids.

Dhruv Vaish’s rainbow-striped ensemble (Waseem Gashroo)

Sahil Aneja took to layering, a trend that’s going strong season after season. Solid and checked suits and jackets over shirts that were longer than the blazers lent a relaxed feel to the otherwise formal outfits. He seemed to play it safe with his trousers though, sticking to the done-to-death straight, structured cuts and fits.

Layering by Sahil Aneja (Waseem Gashroo)

The standout designer among the trio was undoubtedly Pawan Sachdeva. His crisp summer line was inspired by the French word Façon, which denotes Make (bespoke craftsmanship), Shape (modern construction) and Appearance (dexterous surface techniques). In a classic masculine colour palette of marble white, pewter, slate, azure and raven, the collection looked easy, sporty and very wearable. “I travel abroad quite often, and every time I end up carrying many different changes for meetings, for scouring the markets and for the parties,” says Sachdeva. “Hence, the idea behind my collection was to have ensembles that could translate from workwear to partywear – you can wear the same outfit to a mall or a club.”

Pawan Sachdeva’s sporty, versatile creation (Waseem Gashroo)

With laser cut, colour blocking, texturing and tie-and-dye incorporated as techniques, his outfits are for those who’re young and those who wish to look and feel young. And they seem to have struck the right chord with the buyers. He says, “My laser cut and colour-blocked jackets are flying off the shelves, even as we speak!”

From HT Brunch, October 23

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