Lakme Fashion Week: A (Selective) Overview

Lakme Fashion Week: A (Selective) Overview

An overview of any fashion week event must eventually be underlined by the business it generates. That’s the core takeaway after all, with primary and associate sponsors investing huge amounts of money on the one hand and participating designers paying fees to show on the other.

If it sells, it swells. But even as you read our story on the Business Theory of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Winter/Festive 2018, there is enough to argue, why other elements too are germane to the show overall.

This is not an exhaustive summation and might perhaps read as subjective to many, but it is based on fundamental aspects that come together to configure a fashion week.


Cocktails & Samosas was Abharam & Thakore’s first complete participation at LFW

Abraham & Thakore, never mind the Delhi-Mumbai Fashion Divide

Ever since The Great Split of 2006, The Indian fashion industry has never stopped adding meat and muscle to the entertaining and tiring story on the Delhi-Mumbai fashion divide. Speculation, unconfirmed reports of designer fights or disagreements between fashion week organisers go on every season. Sometimes comes a cherry on top that is quickly plucked out and thrown from the pastry: that the two: the FDCI India Couture Week and the Lakme Fashion Week will be united and everyone will live happily ever after.

The happy for now (united or not), came in the form of one of the most respected fashion and design brands of the country: Abraham & Thakore (A&T). Their show Cocktails & Samosas was their first complete participation at LFW—before this they had only appeared on the ramp as a part of a collective show or a textile collaboration. Cocktails & Samosas mixed the Indian urban psychology and dressing habits of the West and India in ways that gave the audience a peek into both as one entity as well as separate ideas.

Rich silks, zari imbued garments, brocades, sequins and geometric, grid-style patterns. According to the collection note, the textiles were sparked by the exhibition A Search in Five Directions co-curated by Thakore, that showcased the legacy of late textile expert Martand Singh. Tying, draping and wrap-around styles, reminiscent of the phanek and the sarong were recurrent in the collection that featured dresses, shirts, wide-legged pants, tunics, jackets, saris and a few separates for men. Metallics and chromes in gold and silver with a smattering of white and black were the dominating shades.

High on symbolism, high on style, sustainably Indian, stamped with the texture of handloom. A&T, welcome to Mumbai. So, will we see you in Delhi too?


Kangana Ranaut walked as a showstopper for Pankaj and Nidhi

Great Expectations and Plateaus

Pankaj and Nidhi are well-known for their design interpretations of popular cultural stories from around the world, with dexterous and imaginative combinations of machine and handwork. They have earned regard and respect for their body of work and over the years assimilated a sturdy clientele. Expectations from them are always high. But their Nokia 6.1 collection ‘After Dark’ with actor Kangana Ranaut as the showstopper, was below the mark that the husband-wife duo have etched for themselves in the past. There were short dresses and skirts, ample use of reflective embellishments in colours of blue, cobalt, grey and pink-red. “Specially engineered materials such as patent finish faux leathers, metallic hyper-twist yarns and graded geometric gemstones” were used, said the press note.


Barve’s collection was closer to the commercial controls of the fashion market than to a designer with the eye

Nachiket Barve as a designer has had some strong and applause-worthy milestones in fashion. After a brilliant debut at LFW, he created a body of work based on surface texture explorations in a unique way. One of his past collections called “Maia” inspired by Maori, a New Zealand tribe used abstracted patterns of tattoos that the tribe wore as a mark of identity. It was a very worthy interpretation. Ditto for a collection Barve made as an International Woolmark Prize contestant using felted applique, hand embroidery and digital print. Given that kind of work in the context of his rise, Barve’s “Millenial Maharanis” collection made in collaboration with RElan—described as a green gold fabric made from PET bottles—at LFW was closer to the commercial controls of the fashion market than to a designer with the eye and hand of an artist. Catering to the market is not a compromise but Barve’s particular use of Gota work and his choice of colour combinations on some garments deserved more imagination.


Shankar’s collection on the Sustainable Fashion Day was a show many looked forward to

Sunita Shankar has had a long run as an Indian textile designer associated with wearable, attractive Bandhini and Shibori work on silks and a range of other textiles. Her maturity as a designer comes across in all her work and rings in as strength and clarity. Her association with RMKV Silks of Chennai on the Sustainable Fashion Day was a show many looked forward to. Both for Shanker’s design touch and the fact that Kanjeevaram silks were the protagonist. The result though was an excess of design ideas that included layers, knots, crushed tops and flaps on blouses and other garments. The Kanjeevaram is no ordinary weave: its robust, proud in its sheen, a delight to drape for its richness and intense fall. It doesn’t need multi-pronged design details that, in fact, dilute its impact from a purist point of view.


Datta’s show, Volume 1, Issue 2 was about 10 ensembles made from cotton but could pass off as silk or crinkled paper

Kallol Datta: The Oddball Entry

We met and chatted with Kallol of the Kallol Datta 1955 label in the corridors of LFW. The Kolkata based designer-artist looked even more like a recluse and a misfit—self-confessed too—in the fashion week scenario. He said he didn’t feel one with the crowd that thronged here but wasn’t essentially against showing at such an event. This conflict between his likes and dislikes remained unresolved as he chose the Studio to show “Volume 1 Issue 2” his collection. The Studio is an experimental space that explores fashion away from its runway format. At the show, it was hard to locate the publicity-reluctant Datta in person to ask for his thoughts. He didn’t even have a business booth. Volume 1, Issue 2 was about 10 ensembles which, according to the press note, were made from cotton but could pass off as silk or crinkled paper. Analogue prints, photographs, models covered with head to toe hijab-like garments with screen prints on them, an overlap blouse with matching pants, others in Datta’s favourite anti-fits formed a show that was artsy alright but not as easy to interpret.

In the future, collections like these could perhaps be displayed with an interpreter? Even a Q&A with the audience invited to free associate on the designs with the designer. The existent format in Datta’s context was neither purely art, nor purely fashion yet rife with potential. Except that it needed to be served in an engrossing way.

Shri Kallol Datta, kindly treat this as an invite to write an Open Letter on The Voice of Fashion on Fashion and Conflict Resolution.


Anita Dongre speaking at the seminar during the Sustainable Fashion Day

A Seminar at Fashion Week?

On Day Two of LFW, also called the Sustainable Fashion Day, curated by Gautam Vazirani of IMG Reliance, a number of CEOs and heads of organisations with clear commitments to sustainable fashion were invited to share their vision and thoughts. Among them were Yuri Afanasiev, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations (present through a video message), Vinai Kumar Saxena, Chairperson of the Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC), Vipul Shah the COO of Reliance Petrochemicals Ltd and Anita Dongre, Founder of the House of Anita Dongre also a leading fashion designer. A series of talks was not how fashion weeks worked in the past. That’s why it was notable that this seminar was not only engaging but offered a direction and perspective to how “Sustainable Fashion” can be tested and implemented on the ground. Three cheers for the cryptic, sharp addresses that came from all.


Kareena Kapoor Khan walked the ramp for the finale in a holographic gown by Monisha Jaising

The Finale, The Fun, the Flamboyance

Monisha Jaising’s clothes were okay—some good—some blingy—some sparkling—some silken—some red carpet-worthy—some for socialite soirees—and Kareena Kapoor Khan, oh everything looks good on her, including the holographic gown with sexy cutouts—the spectacle was fabulous—the ramp was tall, dark, blue and bold—the show was a riot of fun—the cocktails even better—what a party—Cirque du Soleil, the theatrical troupe was totally, totally spectacular. (The word “amazing” is banned on our publication, but you know where this is going!)

Now take a breath and repeat.

With inputs from Snigdha Ahuja