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On the Occidental Trail

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Western Wear at Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2018

By Meher Castelino

Creating good, well-styled and finished western wear is not an easy task for many Indian designers who are great at presenting ethnic and bridal trousseaux. At Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2018 held in Mumbai from August 22-26, the creative dozen revealed that their western wear lines would be hot sellers around the world because of the perfect fabric selections, embellishments and the innovative silhouettes. Fabric experiments were evident along with innovative surface texturing that gave the western wear category a fresh creative angle.



One of the pioneers of western wear designing, the Abraham and Thakore label started 25 years ago by David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore has been favourites not only in India but internationally as they were the first to cater to the western buyers. Their “Cocktails and Samosa” collection was a great study in innovative fabrics as well as shapes that had a perfect combination of style and substance. The fabrics woven in Benaras had two shades of gold inter-woven with black with different weaves and geometric patterns. There was a great merger of hand-embroidered tussar and reverse hand cut patterns in silk that were combined with sequinned textures. Jackets, skirts, kimono tops, shirts and trousers had numerous mix and match possibilities.


The line called “Away” revolved around the imagery of flying away and breaking through the glass ceiling. It was a look that played creatively with graphics, which was an unconventional merger of shattered fragments. It eventually came together as visuals of flying birds like eagles and parrots. The colour story included red, blue, green, yellow and purple. Detailing was given prime importance as careful pleating and 3D texturing added to the beauty of the graphic forms on various fabrics. Layering played a major role for nearly every ensemble as the feminine drapes flowed gracefully down the ramp.



The Amrich label by Richard Pandav and Amit Vijaya showed the collection called “Overlay” that had an assortment of stylish, chic separates that could be interchanged as well as mixed and matched effortlessly to suit the wearer’s whims. From the fluid hand woven, silk, dress with layered yoke, the collection moved to gorgeous Ikat tunics, dresses, jackets, trousers and colour blocked shirts. Khadi, wool, silk and silk cotton blends were the perfect foil for the designs. The natural textiles were visualised with hand weaving as well as resist dye techniques and embroidery. The Shibori patterning was dominant in most of the creations giving the ensembles an earthy look that exuded beautiful crafts. Keeping to the signature, fluid, asymmetric, silhouettes, the duo ensured that the elegant shapes were layered to perfection.


Known for creating his unconventional textiles, Amit Aggarwal worked with modern industrial materials that included his favourite polymer strips and metallic laces; making the ensembles a visual innovative story, where the patterns for the textiles gradually moved to angular lines and finally culminated in soft waves and abstract linear forms. Women’s wear featured bell-bottom pants and moulded silhouettes. Colours were arctic and pearl white, granite silver grey and radiant black for sleek bell-bottom pants, angular, pleated, ribbed, space age like, blouse. The one-shouldered, glittering, jumpsuit, palazzos, halter tops, will-power sheaths, gowns, peplum tops, lace beaded skirts, jackets, pleated caped coats with Capri pants and tasselled gown along with similar treatment for men’s wear created a surreal fashion statement. Traditional Indian crafts like Phulkari appeared in a metallic embroidered technique with the help of recycled plastic and metal surfaces. The silhouettes were moulded into sharp patterns and shapes that had a marked futuristic vibe.



The rich jewel toned colour card with deep fuchsia, black, bottle green, wine, blue, turquoise, red and lavish splashes of gold was given intelligent glitter with Resham work and dazzled with hand cut lamé appliqués. The “Millennial Maharanis” collection recreated the grandeur, style and glory of regal, Indian, royalty of the eras gone by. The slim, sleek gowns were striking with high slits, the shimmering gold gown under a black sheer coat and bolero was an elegant trio. The abstract chrysanthemum motifs were crafted with Gota as yarn for the flouncy, tulle, skirts intricately embroidered jackets, slinky will-powered or off-shouldered gowns that looked fabulous with overcoats.


The collection was a great display of both hand and machine made technology that worked seamlessly together, to create a perfect ready-to-wear line. Since precision was the key word, each detail was meticulously hand done but with hi-tech floral and abstract ornamental detailing. An exotic touch was achieved by moving into the past and inspired by Edwardian sleeves. The asymmetry in the silhouettes was very evident as the form fitting, body-hugging construction, gave way to fluid flowing swirling capes and trains. The colour palette was definitely partial to blue, which was complemented in perfect unison with midnight, cobalt, grey pink and red, which were seen in abstract techno forms. Presenting razor sharp constructions is the fortè of the designing pair so, specially engineered fabrics like faux leather, metallic type twist yarns and graded geometric gemstones gave an innovative fashion dimension. It was pure formal evening wear as bi-symmetric jackets and capes were teamed with classic well-finished and tailored pants.



Cape Town and its picturesque beauty inspired the “Protea” collection. The vibrant and intricate glass beadwork was used to create optical illusion-like embroideries as geometrical floral patterns were combined with native botanical prints to create a striking fashion statement. The main highlight was the striped and checked Bandhani that was inspired by the endless wine plantations that Cape Town is renowned for. The cobalt blue kimono jacket, blouse, nautical Bandhani flared pants, dark green Bandhani oversized shirt with vest and joggers, green/white high neck Bandhani blouse, embroidered, scalloped, sleeved kaftan and the multi-coloured embroidered, printed, maxis offered a variety in embellishments.


Monisha Jaising is known for her trademark designs that emote ‘laidback glamour’ and this fitted perfectly into the ‘Shades of a Diva’ theme. Her creations showcased beautiful figure sculpting silhouettes with the use of precious elements and colourful fabrics, in both, muted hues like sweet lilac, peacock green, palettes and the holographic prints for the finale gown. The embroidery on the designs derived inspiration from global art, while the fabric choice was varied, the colours and silhouettes were ideal for a grand Red Carpet look.



Here is a label that had crisply edited clothes for the show with a perfect story line in terms of fabrics, prints and silhouettes. The “Gypset” collection was aimed at the jet set free spirited dresser, which featured western wear with some Indian flavour. Flared pants, scalloped blouses swirling skirts, dhoti pants and ‘A’ line elegant coats gave a strong fashion direction.


“La Fleur” collection was a flirty, feminine look just ideal for the coming season. The print story focused on floral hydrangeas along with strong accents on geometric and linear stripes. Colours moved from pretty pastels to frozen blues and then mauves and finally to post box red. Laser cutting focused on embroidery that also listed mirror, cut Dana and thread work as the exciting detailing along with linear and floral work.

Fluid kaftan capes, a sprinkling of tiered ruffled pants, some figure contouring body suits and sexy bralettes were aimed at the jet setting women on the move. Panelled capes brought in the resort wear angle over embroidered body suits. Frills and flounces, bias cut skirts, sequinned bralettes with capes, tiered, frilly, blouses with matching pants, capes, sequinned corsets, jumpsuits under flowing capes added to the destination wardrobe look.



 The colours moved from shades of green to darker hues, with bursts of yellow. The fabrics from Bengal had silks, Khadi as well as cottons on which the doodle sketch inspirations were botanical in appearance.

The collection called “Wilderness” had a look that was inspired by the glorious prospect of travel along with the beauty of nature’s greenery, creepers and botanical fantasy. The yellow embroidered pant/dress set and tunic worn with cropped pants added the sudden spark of sunshine. The tiered skirts, 2-button coat, shawl inspired asymmetric shrug, sleeveless long waistcoat in shades of brown, sharply cut blazer, leaf green jumpsuit once again with a coat, wrap pants, tunic and biker jacket offered a great look for the coming season.


The natural, hand woven fabrics like cotton, cotton/silk, sheer silk organza with wool and the lush Bangalore silk with mercerised cotton, were highlighted by intricate cutwork and Kantha stitches. The collection called “Unchartered” was inspired by Irish landscapes and the region’s culture evoked the romantic vibes. Layering played a major role for the creations, while the coatdress with front and rear-overlapping yokes had an interesting silhouette. Shades of maroon, grey, white and turquoise blue with checks and stripes were the prime pattern. The grey trench-coat-inspired creation, asymmetric skirts, drop-waist checked maxi over shift and the bias, pleated, checks/striped dress brought the story of the collection to the forefront.

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