India Couture Week: Rites of Rajasthan


India Couture Week: Rites of Rajasthan

Mumbai-based Anita Dongre is one of the most commercially successful Indian fashion designers. Her thoughtfully strategic business expansion backed by an equally relevant and accessible fashion acumen that holds the pulse of the consumer and makes it throb has become a story worth recounting. In business schools, fashion colleges, amongst fashion industry conversations. AND, Anita Dongre, Grassroot and Global Desi are her sub brands—each with a distinct signature, in the way they zoom into a particular market segment and their design distinction. Grassroot, created on the lines of sustainable, wearable, handloom principles of manufacturing and skill procurement has recently won her immense regard and reckoning. Dongre loves and believes in what she is doing and that conviction sparkles in her conversations and work.

That’s why it is easy to say that she is the best person to reflect on the limited appeal that her first ever couture show had. On Day 2 of the ongoing India Couture Week at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi, Dongre’s couture line Epic Love did have her signature. While that stamp in its evocation of Rajasthan as a design milieu was clear—braided hair, gotta patti work as embellishment, Pink City jewellery (Dongre’s jadau jewellery label), antique silver pieces from the Anita Dongre jewellery range, the black and white tiled floor design or the architectural rendering of a Rajasthani palace garden—it soon lost its charm in the clothes.

The first few garments that came down the ramp were good—chintz inspired block printed lehngas, gotta patti teamed with thread work—giving them dazzle and prettiness. Paired with Bohemian gypsy tops, they set out a certain mood. They belied that tiring notion that all couture from India is bridal in focus or undercurrent. In fact, a long column front-open kurta in deep blue and ochre paired with printed and embellished slim pants (also printed) was a lovely silhouette.

But that vibe collapsed all too soon—as more prints in predictable hues of pink, orange and maroon walked down. Rani pink is as common a hue as it is tricky and Dongre could give that colour some nurturing. The orange especially shown through a chiffony sari also deserves restraint. The fringe edged saris were unexceptional while the tie-up tops teemed as blouses may look okay on model backs but their sexiness as a silhouette for the regular Indian woman would be debatable.

Nothing was truly spectacular. The best garments in the collection seemed like enhanced, beautified extended ideas of what you would find in the Anita Dongre diffusion line—but they lacked the power and extreme poise or rather the stellar quality of haute couture.