Amit Aggarwal Couture: High on Design, Low on Spectacle

Amit Aggarwal Couture: High on Design, Low on Spectacle

A fine sculptor of material and ideas, Amit Aggarwal marked ten years with brilliant design but fell short on its staging 

On Saturday, July 30, the penultimate day of the 2022 edition of FDCI’s India Couture Week, a large and discerning gathering of design and fashion enthusiasts found their way to Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Amit Aggarwal, among the uniquely talented and tradition-busting designers of this “time” in India’s fashion trajectory was celebrating 10 years of his work. Time is a weighty word as you will realise if you read on, chosen by Aggarwal for his press note and used in italics. “A constant thread of morphing forms and blurring the inescapable folds of time runs through it all,” he says of his ten-year-old journey and this collection.

The last decade saw Aggarwal morph from a talented, young designer, into a couturier with an imposing point of view. A masterful sculptor of material who would work with discarded plastic, polymers and other odd and even reclaimed industrial materials to create garments. Saris and lehenga sets included, but not only these.


Amit Aggarwal celebrated ten years of his work with his latest couture showcase.

He mixes his reclaimed from the wastelands, materials with chiffons, crepes, sexy silks and satins to introduce textural antithesis. Cleverly, he evokes yin and yang within the garment, fierce and dreamy at once. As his ten years wore on, Aggarwal made the human body the holding canvas for many a sculpted, tailored, draped ideas in design. He rued enough about modernity to jump into its lair, wrangle with it and give it a visually appealing shape with untamed fabrics and some unclaimed ideas.

To this body of artistic work tweaked with the right commercial inflections, Aggarwal added his stand on gender and its fluid identities by piercing beyond normative halos. In the past he has made kimonos for men and couture for drag artists like Sushant Divgikar, aka Rani KoHEnur.


A model in Aggarwal’s couture.

Given this map, to those curious in design’s innumerable possibilities, an Amit Aggarwal show promises movement and magic.

At the show, all these dimensions were on view. There was enough movement. From the designer’s last seen work to now. Between fabric and form. Within immutable notions of gender, body, inclusivity, shape and size. The clothes that Aggarwal sent out on a few dozen models moved beyond gender binaries and size brackets. It was couture all right, all guns blazing in its detailing and innovation. It cared for the market and then it didn’t, showing us things only a ramp can hold— fierce glamour especially on transmen who wore the vibe with exciting charm.

There were sculpted dresses, jackets, pant suits, slit gowns, crop tops, capes, accessories expressed as textural halos textures that invoked geometry and experimentation. Not every piece was exceptional but there was a story that was vivacious.


Sushant Divgikr aka Rani KoHEnur on the runway.

“Every silhouette shows that we carry the echo of the first human and hold the inception of the future—overlaid on the fine-grained realities of the present,” adds the press note. Those who have shared grainy conversations with Aggarwal (like this reviewer), know he is speaking his mind. “This collection is a celebration of the fact that we are the glitch in time: warping forms, straddling realms, embracing eternity.”

Alas, the wreathing of most and beautiful wrath of some ideas got a little dimmed because of insipid fashion show staging. It did not ignite a spark. The seating area of the large auditorium at the stadium venue was used as the ramp with mesmeric live music and a memorable curation of models. The auditorium’s stage was converted into the seating domain. Novel as a concept, but ineffective as it failed to materialise into a set deserving of Aggarwal’s couture.


Aggarwal takes a bow at the end of his showcase.

Couture needs powerful staging and performative aspects to make a strong statement. Much of it comes from clothes, of designs going beyond seen and herd boundaries. In equal parts, it needs a spectacular setting. This show had one but not enough of the other.


Banner: Amit Aggarwal couture on the runway. Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP

Disclaimer : The term “transmen” was erroneously used in the first version of the article and has been changed to “gender-fluid models”. The instance of Sushant Divgikar has been added with reference to drag couture.