Rohit Bal collection: Off site and off point

Designer Rohit Bal

On Wednesday, designer Rohit Bal did a fashion show with all his trademark elements — high drama and exquisite clothes. He just seemed to have missed one detail ... that he was not showing at ‘couture’ week. The designer’s off site show at his restaurant Cibo was part of the ongoing Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week which, as opposed to couture week that happens in July, is a prêt wear trade event.

The select few invited to the ‘extremely private’ show (off-limits even for accredited media) applauded the models who appeared on the restaurant terrace wearing flowy, elaborate off-white outfits with intricate embroidery. “Every outfit is like a work of art. It took as many as 30 kaarigars to make each, over a period of months,” said a member of the designer’s team, wishing not to be named.

There were high praises from the industry for the collection. But, said some designers, the focus should have been on prêt. No so, says Sunil Sethi, president of the fashion design council that organises fashion week: “I’m proud of Rohit’s collection. Yes, it’s not exactly prêt, but a veteran designer like him is allowed to do this at an off-site show.”

Models showing Rohit Bal’s collection at his restaurant Cibo.
Earlier in the day, designers such as Shantanu-Nikhil and Preeti Chandra, too, showcased ornate drapes or dresses with extensive embroidery on lavish velvet garments.

“I was surprised to see such lavish and luxe clothing on the ramp, there was nothing ready-to-wear about these clothes. Isn’t this fashion week supposed to be a prêt show?,” asked designer Anupama Dayal. “Sometimes designers think couture is the best way to hog the limelight. They believe that Indian fashion is all about drama and end up mixing the prêt with the bespoke fashion,” said designer Anju Modi. While Bal did not respond to requests for a comment, Preeti Chandra defended her line: “International buyers get excited by Indian embroidery, that’s why I showed couture pieces. Also, most buyers don’t come twice in a year, so I took this platform to showcase all my range.” Designers Nikhil from Shantanu-Nikhil echoed, “Most Arab buyers prefer elaborate pieces.”

Inputs from Surabhi Chauhan know the difference Prêt: Prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) are clothes sold in finished condition, in standard sizes. In the fashion industry, designers produce ready-to-wear clothes with standard patterns to keep the costs low, as compared to a custom-sewn version Couture: Haute couture refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing, usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail.


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