India Couture Week: Rahul Mishra


India Couture Week: Rahul Mishra

New Delhi: Last year, when Rahul Mishra presented his first couture line in Delhi, a number of fashion watchers came out with mixed thoughts. While Mishra kept reiterating later that his collection had commercially been a big hit and that orders had begun pouring in soon after the show, experiencing it on the ramp had not conveyed an exquisite edge, depth or novelty (it was largely a retelling of his own work).

With Monsoon Diaries, his 2016 Couture collection that walked the ramp on Friday at the ongoing India Couture Week in Delhi, Mishra imbued all those the missing values into his couture—edge, depth, novelty. What must be said loudly and clearly is that he brought his own idiom in more ways than one. He broke out of the saturated market demand for bling that’s so synonymous with Indian couture that it works like a noose on the necks of many designers who might want to experiment and push creative boundaries but succumb to the “market”.

The fact that Mishra is willing to swim without that safety ring is commendable. Especially now when some Indian couturiers are having (on social media and some sections of the press) stabbing and caustic debates on originality in design and the creative shallowness of the local fashion industry. Mishra’s originality needs to be recognized.

His clothes were densely hand-embroidered, the best part of the colour palette was pearly white and there was a near total absence of clichéd lavishness usually heaped on Indian couture with gota, zari, zardozi, Banaras brocade etc etc. Fabrics used were Chanderi, Khadi, silk organza, georgette, muga silk, Maheshwari…There were long dresses, short and long jackets, saris, kurta-palazzos, dupattas, Kalidar kurtas, kedia blouses and lehnga sets with embroidery so fine and so much that the pieces looked dipped in threadwork skills. Mishra used cutwork and French knots besides extended needlework, restricting the use of gold thread on a black field only to two pieces, one being his showstopper garment.

Full marks for breaking out of the formula of Indian couture, for risking established customer taste to offer something diverse yet aesthetically tasteful, for interpreting non-blingy hand embroidery with the halo of haute couture.

But if not being bridal in the conventional sense was precisely the winsomeness of Monsoon Diaries, it was surprising to read Mishra’s collection note use the words “for the modern day bride”. This homage is inessential if one is offering a diverse aesthetic.

Also, some silhouettes looked too “buttoned up” to use a metaphoric term. While revealing the woman’s body is by no means the only way to underline sexiness, some of Mishra’s garments had a “cloistered” look about them. They looked mature and grown-up, minus youthfulness despite being so beautifully made with faultless finish. One or two, especially a pearl white lehnga set with gold embroidery and cut work dupatta that walked out towards the end could have been easily edited out.