Malavika’s Mumbaistan: New platforms for creativity and commerce

Predicated on the extraordinary textile legacy of India, our designers are creating works of unimaginable beauty and excellence at the ongoing FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week
This year, bowing to the protocols of the pandemic, the people behind FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week have decided to host a ‘phygital (physical plus digital)’ edition of the show, which means that both online as well and offline presentations are on display. (HT File)
This year, bowing to the protocols of the pandemic, the people behind FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week have decided to host a ‘phygital (physical plus digital)’ edition of the show, which means that both online as well and offline presentations are on display. (HT File)
Published on Oct 08, 2021 08:00 PM IST
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ByMalavika Sangghvi

Going by the burst of creativity and craft that is being witnessed during the staging of the ongoing FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week, it would not be wrong to say that the fashion industry seems to have taken a leaf out of nature itself and emerged from the long winter of its pandemic-induced hibernation with its most vibrant offerings in a long while.

And what a delight it is proving for the eye and the soul, after these many months of drabness and absence, to see the breathtaking creations of industry leaders like Tarun Tahiliani, Anamika Khanna and JJ Vallaya: palettes and styling that evoke our rich heritage and history; heirloom embroideries and bead work which show case India’s best talents; a multiplicity of interpretations on traditions and themes; lehengas fit for princesses; jewel’s fit for kings, and the heralding of renewal and regeneration as gorgeous models swan up and down showcasing the outfits with confidence and elan, reminding us of how things used to be in pre-pandemic times, before the world was sent up to its room, without dinner, by the virus.

Truly Indian fashion at its best along with Bollywood and cricket is one of the country’s most significant soft powers. Predicated on the extraordinary textile legacy of India, our designers are creating works of unimaginable beauty and excellence. And while doing so, are giving a much-needed fillip to the country’s karigars and craftsmen.

Because let’s face it, more than just the fickle fancy of a handful of men and women deciding what’s in one season and out the other, or the whims of rich ladies who shop, the fashion industry spawns jobs and careers, nurtures talent and creativity and communicate the confidence of a young Republic that is very cognisant of its heritage and place in the world. For this they ought to be afforded respect and regard and encouragement and support.

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This year, bowing to the protocols of the pandemic, the people behind FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week have decided to host a ‘phygital (physical plus digital)’ edition of the show, which means that both online as well and offline presentations are on display. And according to many, this appears to be one more instance where the pandemic has proven to have had a beneficial effect on things.

Eliminating the last-minute adrenalin rush and the crush of the hoi polio as they rubber neck to catch a glimpse of their favourite Bollywood stars on the ramp and in the audience, true lovers of fashion can now get a more appreciative feel for the actual work that goes in to the creation of the outfits, presented by the designers, most of which have taken months to create.

Because let’s face it, unlike the serious platform it was meant to be, to showcase the industry’s best and brightest, in recent years the fashion show had become nothing more than a tamasha, a social circus, where everything but the clothes on show were being noticed and commented on. Now, with their well thought out digital offerings showcasing their latest lines, the designer and his work have been placed once again, centre stage and their creativity seems to have found a resurgence.

Both Tahiliani and Vallaya’s digital presentations of their works (available for all to see, on YouTube, without the bother of craning necks and bruised egos in a stuffy dark hall) demonstrated the deep thought and refined sensibility that had gone in to the creation of their films. Rather than have their outfits flashing on and off the ramp in a few seconds, their digital films this year have afforded designers one more platform to present their vision, replete with story lines, set design and direction. This marks the advent of the designer as an auteur – someone who not only creates outfits but an entire lifescape of their sensibility.

Besides, the scope A digital presentation affords the designers, of course there is the convenience for their audience – of viewing fashion in the comfort of one’s own home, and at one ‘s own leisure. A welcome relief for those like me who had tired of the rush, the crush, the long delays and the endless silliness of what Fashion Week had degenerated in to in recent years.

Because viewing the digital interpretations of their works while removed from the circus that used to surround them in earlier years, one can truly appreciate the creativity and commitment to excellence that inspired them.

Of course, a few offline shows were hosted this year, but mercifully they were small, intimate and many of them we notice avoided the mandatory Bollywood star show stopper that had contributed to what is in our opinion fashion’s declining trajectory.

After all, when you have clothes that cost a king’s ransom, surely, they ought to be perfectly capable of holding their own in the spotlight without the support of some Bollywood tinsel.

Hopefully, this is a trend that continues and the yoke that fastened fashion to Bollywood (Follywood?) will further unravel in the coming months.

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This year’s fashion week also saw the advent of another brave new direction for the industry: the introduction of fashion NFTs by designers and artisans. The initiated will know that (NFTs) non-fungible tokens or digital assets are the result of blockchain technology and the latest craze in the international marketplace; now the digital versions of garments and accessories on sale will open up a new platform for commerce and creativity for the industry.

Fittingly, leading designer Manish Malhotra has launched the initiative by creating five exclusive NFTs which will be available during the week to collectors.

“I hope my participation encourages more designers and artisans to explore and take advantage of this new opportunity,” Malhotra one of the senior-most in his trade, is reported to have said.

Which brings us to the end of our comment on the season’s ongoing premier fashion event. All in all, we notice many welcome changes: an online presence that appears to have resulted in a burst of inspiration and craft. New platforms for creativity and commerce. And the option to stay at home and savour the beauty of fashion for stay at homes like me.

Nice.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021