In the ever-evolving fashion world, trends are not just limited to new designs. How the collections are presented has also undergone alterations from time to time. To give designers a big platform, Lakmé India Fashion Week, the country’s first-ever fashion week, was started in Delhi in August 2000.
Since then, fashion weeks have become the go-to showcasing mediums for both budding and established Indian designers. However, of late, the international fashion circuit has been experiencing a shake up of sorts. While fashion capitals like Milan (Italy), Paris (France), London (UK) and New York (USA) continue to organise fashion weeks, big brands such as Dior and Burberry, among others, have been organising elaborate solo shows, apparently, to avoid “the clutter” of fashion weeks. On May 28, Louis Vuitton showcased its Cruise collection at the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Niteroi, Brazil. So, will India follow suit?
“I feel it’s a novel idea. Consumers are looking for different experiences. Such shows take you away from the commerce, and help you experience the brand in totality,” says designer Anavila Misra. Designer Nachiket Barve reveals that the trend of elaborate solo shows is picking up steam in India too. “Anamika Khanna did an installation in Kolkata. People saw her new collection there as opposed to at a fashion week. If it adds to the atmosphere and makes contextual sense, doing a solo show is a fruitful enterprise,” he adds.
Off the beaten path
Even though most designers in India depend on intimate previews or fashion weeks to showcase their collections, designers like Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla swim against the tide. “We have never followed a conventional path — be it our designs or the way we market ourselves. Our brand turns 30 in August, and over the years, we have done a series of independent and extravagant fashion presentations. Nowadays, several shows, as part of fashion weeks, are held in museums, embassies, studios, etc. We started doing this years ago, but not as events related to fashion weeks. It was because we like creating dramatic experiences,” says Khosla. In 1995, they became the first Indian designers to showcase their collection at the then-residence of Frank Wisner, the US Ambassador in New Delhi. In 2000, they did a show at the Famous Studios, Mahalaxmi.
However, designer Anita Dongre feels that the decision to do an elaborate independent show “entirely depends on the designer”, and should not be dependent on a trend. “If designers have something to say that can be experienced through a show, then it makes sense. At times, the timing of a collection isn’t in sync with the fashion week calendar. Also, if one can afford an independent show, then they should go for it,” she says.
Having said that, most designers are of the opinion that an off-piste show does has its share of benefits. While some say the undivided attention of the media, the buyers and the consumers is a plus, others feel that the chance to do a personalised set-up is tempting. For still others, it’s about creative satisfaction.
But organising a solo show is not a cakewalk. It is often financially draining, and requires a lot of time and energy. “Solo shows are demanding on every front. To design a new collection, to create a one-off set, to hire models, choreographers and technical crew, all this requires blood, sweat and tears, and big bucks. So yes, it may not make sense financially, but no artiste ever curbs their compulsion to create because of finances,” says Jani.
The magic of two
On the whole, Barve feels that it is too soon for solo shows to take over from the appeal of fashion weeks. “Fashion weeks will thrive as a platform. It is difficult for the media to attend so many shows through the year. A fashion week lets them take in everything under one venue, and in a tight schedule. It is relatively easy to organise everything under one roof as opposed to hopping across different venues in a city or across the country. The buzz created under an organised week also works,” he says. Dongre thinks that “both formats can coexist”.