Thanks to e-retail portals like Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong, Fashionandyou - Indians have finally warmed up to the idea of shopping online. But the country’s leading designers have always been cagey about their online presence. Well, this year saw things change for the better. You can now bring home a Manish Malhotra or a Suneet Varma without having to step out of your pyjamas. A large number of designers associated with established e-commerce portals to tap the ambitious new shoppers of Tier II cities particularly. Karan Johar+Varun Bahl, a menswear label by film director Karan Johar and designer Varun Bahl went online for the first time at Perniaspopupshop.com. The portal also celebrated 25 years of ace couturier Suneet Varma with a special pret line, available online. Designers Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Bal and Ritu Kumar created festive lines for Fashionandyou.com. Niche websites such as Elitify.com have also bridged the gap between international labels such as Burberry, Ferragamo and Hugo Boss and the Indian consumer. What’s more, the Spring-Summer 2014 edition of the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) saw designers Anupamaa Dayal, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Gauri and Nainika, Pia Pauro and Payal Pratap embrace the world of Apps with custom-made profiles. The collections, ramp showcases and behind the scenes images are now just a click away.
YEAR OF VARMA
From a book that mirrors the growth of the Indian fashion industry as much as his own over the last 25 years to being signed up by American luxury bag label Judith Leiber for another term apart from a cracker of a couture collection, designer Suneet Varma was on a roll. The book titled Suneet Varma raises a toast to his label’s silver jubilee celebrations and a beautiful documentation of how fashion has evolved over more than two decades. With 500 images shot by some of the country’s leading fashion photographers like Prabuddha Dasgupta, Bharat Sikka, Farrokh Chothia and VibhashTiwari, this is a collector’s item. Speaking of which, the “Empress” is one too. The bejewelled clutch designed by Varma is an ode to the 50 golden years of the Judith Leiber brand.
Cows, trucks, bugs, moss, Madhubala…it would hard to find a common denominator, no? But all these are all motifs found their way on designer ensembles all through the year. Be it Delhi-based designer duo Hemant Lalwani and Nandita Raipurani, Masaba Gupta, Joy Mitra or Jenjum Gadi, more and more designers are using digital technology to transfer their inspirations on to fabric. A refreshing change from OTT embroideries any day.
THE BRIDE WEARS BLACK
A few years back, tell your future mother-in-law or even your own mother that you are picking a black outfit for your trousseau and chances are you would get to hear a “Hawww” followed by big-time eye roll and gyan on how black is a strict no-no for the bride. While D-day dresses aren’t as embracing black full on, designers like Falguni and Shane Peacock, Gaurav Gupta, Manish Arora (who launched his first-ever bridal couture collection at Delhi Couture Week) and JJ Valaya have pushed black outfits in their bridal collections. As designer Raghavendra Rathore puts it, there’s more to bridal couture than just red and there’s more to a trousseau than just the lehenga.
It was a year for the Indian fashion industry to raise its head in pride. Textile and fibre brand Woolmark named designer Rajesh Pratap Singh to be its first ever ‘Wool Ambassador’ for India. That news came close on the heels of designer Poonam Bhagat designing the entire costumes for the French opera ‘Lalla Roukh’ that was staged by Opera Lafayette at The Kennedy Centre in Washington DC earlier this year. Bhagat, who designed 24 costumes in all, used Indian fabrics such as chanderi, cotton silk, velvet and brocade. Also making us proud are designer couple, Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja who shared space with the likes of Missoni, Etro as their collection made its way to Harrods London. Just then designer Rahul Mishra won the International Woolmark Prize India and Middle East regional final. He will now join the likes of Altuzarra (USA), fiXXed (Asia), Christopher Esber (Australia) and SIBLING (Europe) for the final face-off in Milan in February 2014. The International Woolmark Prize is like the Oscars of fashion and we are impressed. Speaking of impressions, renowned tattoo artist Kat Von D was smitten the works of designer couple Falguni and Shane Peacock and she signed them on to create her bridal outfit. The two have been regulars at the New York Fashion Week (NYFW) for quite some time now and now add Von D to the list that includes Madonna, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Fergie, Rihanna to name a few.
Elsewhere adding an Indian element to the third edition of Tobago Fashion Weekend 2013 (TFW) were leading luxury swimwear designers Shivan Bhatiya and Narresh Kukreja, better known as Shivan & Narresh. Held from May 17 to 19 at Tobago, the smaller of the two main islands that make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, TFW is an international event that clubs tourism and fashion. Shivan & Narresh presented their Spring-Summer 2013 collection titled “Zip”.
Here’s looking forward to a stylish 2014.