The bridal look of the ’90s was all about thinking East and looking West. Remember those mermaid-style lehengas paired with fitting tops? Those trouser suits (short kurtas with salwars stitched like pants)? What if we told you that Indo-fusion is back? Surely, you’re cringing right now.
There’s better news this time around. Some Indian designers are modernising the idea using Indian textiles, weaves and printing techniques, and drawing inspiration from international runways.
"Burberry’s Autumn/Winter 2015 shows used mirrorwork and block printing. Brand India is big," points out designer Shruti Sancheti, 34, who works out of Nagpur. Her last collection featured trench coats, made from the complicated Pochampally weave from Andhra Pradesh, worn over saris.
Her new works include an outfit with zips on the side. When fastened, it’s a well fitted gown, when unzipped, it becomes a sari. Tie-dyed and marble-dyed khadi, silk and muslin are used to make crop tops and jackets. It’s a clear reflection of the way we live now. "You need your outfits to have a global appeal, and they have to be worn as everyday wear," Sancheti says.
The twist to traditional wear is showing up in the works of fellow designers like Kolkata’s Soumitra Mondal. His label Marg uses handloom khadi and jaamdani silk for shift dresses that can also be paired with jeans or tights.
"The shift dress is the future," Mondal says, indicating that loose, comfortable clothing will dominate new designs – and they look seriously sophisticated. "Even the anarkali is now floor length to give it that gown look," he says.
Designer Anavila Misra’s new collection uses batik and traditional patchwork on loose-fitted tunics meant to be paired with the very Western cigarette pants. "The shorter tunics can be worn with harem pants," she suggests. Her anarkalis are stitched like shirts, with buttons and collars.
Think of the new Indo-fusion as muted, wearable and functional, with none of the "exotic India" cliches from the ’90s. "The world is looking at India. It’s only a given that we create modern looks with the resources at hand," says Sancheti. "We are never going to run out."
From HT Brunch, March 15
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch