While Indian style and design continues to be a constant source of inspiration for designers abroad — from Chanel’s oriental indulgence to Miu Miu’s Madras bags — our desi designers themselves are also not far behind in making an impression on the international fashion front.
Husband-wife designer duo Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja, recently added another feather to their cap by winning the regional round of the International Woolmark Prize, which has, in the past, felicitated the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. “This prize was revived after many years. We were told to make a capsule collection made of at least 80% Merino wool. We had access to an entire wool lab, and it was like a trend report for wool for the next season. We got to design one signature garment, and had to create six sketches, it was like a mini-collection for which we got about one and a half months,” informs Pankaj.
Revealing what caught the judges’ fancy, he says, “We created Merino fur, which ended up being a big hit. There’s a huge demand for ecological fur worldwide”. The duo had to compete with designers including Rahul Mishra, Gaurav Gupta, Aneeth Arora, Rimzim Dadu and Arjun Saluja. So, does working in a team give them an extra edge? “My heart goes out to all the designers who work alone. There’s so much to do! My wife is my biggest support,” he says. The talented duo are looking forward to the final leg of the event to be held in London next year. “Yes, we will have greater flexibility as far as the designs are concerned. We will be able to infuse more creativity,” says Pankaj.
The duo will also close the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai (August 3-7), alongside designer Kallol Dutta, and are gearing up to compete for the final round against finalists from China, Europe, Australia and the US.
Colours for your monsoon closet The designers, who were complimented by the judges for their choice of exciting colours, say monsoon is the best time to play with pop colours, bright shades and bold prints. Pankaj recommends pure indulgence in ‘happy’ colours. “Go for watermelon, fuchsia, turquoise and reds. Don’t shy away from glorious shades of green this season or indigo, that works wonders for the Indian skin tone. But the golden rule is to trash all sticky fabrics and stay away from your jeans,” he says.