Well, less is more, dear young fashion designers! Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, one of the founding fathers of the modernist architectural designs, spent an entire lifetime building, quite literally, this concept.
As the curtain came down on the first day of India Runway Week 2017 at Tyagraj Sports Complex in New Delhi, it was time to write the obituary of less.
A young designers’ fashion week in the capital of a country with the largest youth population in the world has a lot riding on its shoulders. You don’t expect lethargy, mismanagement, and, heaven be confounded, no WiFi at a signature event like this. You also do not expect mosquitoes, however ubiquitous their existence in the city happens to be, waiting to feast on suitably uncovered human bodies. All of it, and more, could be forgiven, had the F word been less compromised.
Outrage and causes, likely on loan from social media, seem to have provided artists and designers with a security blanket. Ratchet up a cause and it will pull your art up from mediocrity. To illustrate, for her ‘Vrindavan’ collection, Varija Bajaj’s foisted her unimaginative bling, passing off as “Indian essence,” on the plight of the widows residing in Vrindavan. Most of her lehengas, particularly the banarasi georgette ones, were tacky thanks to the compulsive embroidery. Paired with chic western blouses in white, the lehengas had nothing new to offer in terms of either silhouettes or detailing. As if the sequins and beads on the fabric were not enough, the models were made to wear chunky accessories. Less fashion, more gimmick.
Being the penultimate show of the first day, Bajaj’s gig lends itself to harsher scrutiny but this malaise has spread far and wide. Ashfaque Ahmad’s collection of evening wear also displayed its symptoms. While his cuts were clean and fabric smooth, he too felt the need for shimmery embellishments. The one gown that stood out in his collection, a layered blue piece in textured fabric, was confident of its sass and elegance, just like the model with a pixie haircut sporting it.
Refreshingly, Harsha Bindu Nuthakki got the bling right in her collection inspired by kiwi fruit and toucan bird motifs. While her work with motifs may be seen as dated idea, she executed it well with a clever use of sequins. Again, the ensemble that did not work was a lehenga with a choli that had more light reflecting tiny objects than were necessary. She can be forgiven for this as her greens and whites acted as a salve after the assault on aesthetics that Shilpi Samiya’s collection was.
Like Ahmad’s blue gown, Samiya got one ensemble right: her printed grey-black gown with a tastefully sequined bolero style jacket was the proverbial silver lining.
With her Japan inspired collection of cottons and silks in pastels shades, Gaurika Sharma closed the day on a pleasant note. The garments, however, looked more inspired by the French and Italian Riviera style- an idea reaffirmed by Dean Martin’s music in the background. Her collection was high on wearability and looked elegant. The one ensemble that did not work was, unfortunately, the one she reserved for her celebrity show-stopper, danseuse Shovana Narayan. This plain black saree with a shimmery border lacked the freshness of the rest of the couture as well as the personality of the wearer.
Indian Federation for Fashion Development have joined hand with four organisations namely Rangsutra, SoCHE, Banka Silk and Gestures by Kriti, who work with traditional weavers scattered in different parts of the country. While Rangsutra and Banka Silk showcased a neat blend of traditionally woven fabric and contemporary cuts, SoChe’s collection of garments with rural embroidery from Barmer, Rajasthan was low on the fashion quotient. Gestures by Kriti, on the other hand, seemed content with rekindling the childhood memories of make-belief garments using dupattas and did nothing more.
The delicate balance of less and more is as befuddling as setting the warp and weft right. Once achieved, it produces beauty.