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Synergy1 Delhi Couture Week – Couture Designs

The Indian fashion scenario is filled with multitude designers. But FDCI’s Synergy1 Delhi Couture Week 2011 short listed top 12 of them and set up a fashion extravaganza like never before! By: Soumya Jain

The Indian fashion scenario is filled with multitude designers. But FDCI’s Synergy1 Delhi Couture Week 2011 short listed top 12 of them and set up a fashion extravaganza like never before!

I strongly believe that no other country in the world can showcase couture better than us. Whether it’s because of the creative talent we have here, the immense number of traditional handicraft methods or the rich heritage of colours and styles – India’s fashion design scene is as opulent as it could be!

This is exactly what the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) set out to prove with the Delhi Couture Week. With just the second edition this year, designers have proven that it’s not business – but art that is being showcased at the couture weeks. This time’s Synergy1 Delhi Couture Week was as spellbinding as the previous edition. Though the line-up of designers demanded more couturiers like Sabyasachi, Ritu Kumar, Tarun Tahiliani and Manish Arora, I am not really complaining.

Here’s a little glimpse of how each designer enchanted the audience during the couture week.

Varun Bahl
Opening the event needs a lot of courage when the entire fashion fraternity, media world and luxury industry is looking at the ramp wide-eyed, expecting something grand to walk out. In the case of Mr Bahl, it definitely did!

The show opened with flames dancing on the screen, giving way to images of Marie Antoinette, the famous French queen. She has been an inspiration to many, and Mr Bahl is the latest entrant. But even these images had not prepared us for what came out of the stage wings. The models were clad in lehengas, anarkalis and dresses which had a French style with Indian motifs and karigari!

Air-like tulle, shimmering damasks, and cascading chiffons were used on jackets and corset like structures. A very intelligent use of velvet gave that opulent touch to the collection. High, power shoulders lent a classic touch, while the billowing Indian lehenga below made you gasp in awe at the seamless blend of the two cultures.

The colour palette included a lot of pistachio shades. The royal shades of wine and maroon had to make an appearance in this assortment of regality. Overall, the collection was unique, built out of an original idea and executed well. The French-Indian combination did not look that fantastic on all garments, but worked with most. Different from his other collections, Mr Bahl has certainly innovated.

JJ Valaya
Designer JJ Valaya’s passion for photography is well-known. He photographs his own shoots and he has done shoots for fashion magazines as well. Taking inspiration from his own passion, Mr Valaya based his collection ‘Tasveer’ on the colour palette of photographs.

The collection starts with black and white, going on to sepia, hand-stained, natural and finally culminating in digital. Mr Valaya’s Alika jacket makes a lot of appearance in this collection. It seemed to be quite the focus in fact!

The work and detailing on the collection obviously mirrors Mr Valaya’s signature royal motifs. Nothing is as regal as Mr Valaya’s designs and he has proven that yet again. The saris have semi-precious stone embroideries while some are studded with crystals sewn beautifully into gentle folds of fine resham.

There are velvet inserts on full-bodied silhouettes crusted with embroidery and beading. Imperial gold detailing appears dramatically against exquisite custom woven fabrics. The show culminated with the resplendent JJ Valaya Wedding collection.

Mr Valaya has firmly established himself as the leading couturier in India. And with the brand completing 20 years in the fashion fraternity in 2012, who could contest this lovable and cheerful designer?

Kotwara by Meera & Muzaffar Ali
You know the show will have that grounded, Sufi ambience when it’s Meera & Muzaffar Ali. And when I saw the ramp, I wasn’t wrong either. The ramp was adorned with flowers, pebbles and candles covered with large hour-shaped glass structures. Long paper yellow lamps were hanging from the ceiling. Even after experiencing the same theme at the designer duos’ shows, you don’t get bored of it. They always manage to trap you into a sort of trance which is made more enjoyable with their wonderfully traditional Indian designs. Though most of the couture collection had their usual signature style, the couple managed to throw in some surprises into the assortment.

The collection showcased four diverse inspirations. It started with long, flowy chiffon dresses taking inspiration from the pastels of Muzaffar Ali’s paintings. Earthy and natural tones were printed on crepe de sheen and chiffon in flowing silhouettes. This was followed by the ikat collection – an evolution of appliqué – inspired by the traditional ikat weave in quilted occasion wear coats. This technique has been applied to the chintz form, creating silhouettes in layers of organzas, chiffons and net. The surprise element was some short cocktail dresses with a very contemporary and modern look.

The collection ends with Awadhi opulence, with a sequence of glittering and sparkling ghararas, lehengas, peshwaz, choghas and saris. Some of the saris were contemporary and cocktail-ish. While the range is quite expected, the part of the collection inspired by palettes from paintings and the cocktail dresses and saris took our heart away.

Manav Gangwani
The first thing you notice in the collection is the variety of structures in various shapes that can be seen on the back or shoulders of the models – coupled with some lovely gowns which scream Manav Gangwani. The collection is an interpretation of women’s complex emotions as well as a rendezvous between dreams and reality transcending space and time. It is aptly called ‘A Timeless Affaire’.

Exquisite embroidery, delicate and detailed workmanship, and Swarovski Elements are used imaginatively and lavishly in this collection, adding glamour. Always the one to add bling to his creations, Mr Gangwani has artfully added gota too this time.

Ivory white, lemon green, pastel yellow and fiery oranges make a presence on gold dust georgette, Italian chiffon, French lame, sequined fabric and shimmer net with intricately patterned brocade, silk velvet, French lace, and duchess satin which make this collection exceptional.

Volume and movement give a lot of character to the collection. You are either upfronted with a warrior woman with exaggerated collar detail and armour like structures, while sheer voluminous skirts with layering, flowing, sensuous gowns bring the elegance of a woman to the forefront. Lehengas, anarkalis and glamorous sarees together make an eye catching array of designs.

Suneet Varma
Suneet Varma’s now much famous quote defines his collection the best – “Fashion is the politest way of talking about sex.” And we couldn’t agree more, especially when it’s such a seductive, sensuous collection like Mr Varma’s.

Inspired by the much famous Indian guide book for sex, Kamasutra, Mr Varma displayed a lot of blood red, scintillating black and pastel (his staple) shades in the collection. Not just the collection, but those little hints of sexuality brought the stage alive. A glimpse of a bare ankle, adorned with a delicate pajeb – Mr Varma aimed to capture the youthful demeanour of a seductress.

The show started with an erotic dance which was complimented with musical atmospherics by Gaurav Raina of musical band Midival Punditz.

Long flowing skirts contrasted with embellished metallic bras – reminding me of Madonna’s now much-famous conical bra. Layers of crushed silk with crystal beading flow over narrow trousers. Chiffon stoles and delicate Zardozi koti shrugs are draped sensuously.

Lace embroidered black sarees are embellished with mirror work and intricate ribbon rosettes. Lehengas and anarkalis are given aari and pearl embroidery. Long kurtas and sarees in mint and powder blue are embellished with kundan embroidery.

Completing the collection are bright red, orange and plum shararas worn with sexy cholis and paajeb churidars. Closing in are cutwork lehengas with structured coats and embellished kamarbandhs.

Adarsh Gill
Designer Adarsh Gill was welcomed with much warmth at the couture week. Everybody was eager to see the collection by the veteran who had come to the ramp after a long time. Frankly, I feel a little bad in saying this, but the collection wasn’t much to swear by. Her collection was intended to give a timeless appeal – which it did in a certain way – but ended up being nothing new.

The gowns with the 80s look were nothing original. The designs were the usual established ones. The colour palette included jeweled hues.

The bridal collection was a notch better and the saving grace of the show. The lehengas had a royal, opulent look and were full of traditional work.

Anju Modi
I must say that Anju Modi was a surprise entry in the designer line-up for the couture week. But she exceeded everyone’s expectations and how! She wowed everyone with her ethnic, classy collection, styled simply but elegantly over the models.

The start was a little disappointing with Shraddha Kapoor beginning the show. It was her dress that was the most non-complex and quite unsatisfactory. But after that, it was gorgeousness all the way on the ramp!

Her collection, called ‘Maya’, inspired by the goddess of wealth, was incensed with craft, style and grandeur, all of it spectacularly captured in hues of blue, ivory and maroon. Flaring angrakhas, opulent saris and exaggerated lehengas created a magical vision.

An intelligent use of velvet and net has proven that these are the couture fabrics of the season and should be much seen during the upcoming bridal season in India. It was opulence at its best as doe-eyed models lent the collection a very rich and refined look.

Been there, done that – that’s the best way to describe Ashima-Leena’s couture collection. No, don’t get me wrong. I liked the collection, but that’s it. It wasn’t exactly what you would expect at a couture presentation. There was not much which you could call new or original. Even the pace and organization of the show was quite slack.

It started with three kathak dancers, who were good, but not coordinated well – which marred all the pleasure of seeing this traditional dance form. As the models started strutting on the ramp, all eyes were more on the jewellery rather than the clothes.

Called ‘Adda’, the collection was inspired by the ‘Zenana’ women. Ample brocade has been used on dark green and red gossamer thin silk fabric. Silhouettes are layered, peshwaz over ghagras, drapes over churidars, khadadupattas wrapped over ensembles and so on. The colour palette also includes shades of pink moving into antique peachy rose, soft blues, soothing greens, regal mauves and deep reds combined with creamy beiges. Old, exquisite weaves like jaamdanis and kimkhaabs, are fused into each garment.

Showstopper Sharmila Tagore walked the ramp with a sweet smile, but with quite a lack-a-daisical attitude as well. Again, it quite marred the show for me.

English gowns are the specialty of this designer duo and they always know how to get it right. The show starts with a model rummaging through her vintage looking boudoir. The ramp is set with white English-garden chairs. And the models start coming up clad in some fabulous gowns. Called ‘Perfume’, the collection personified the Elizabethan era with vintage gowns which have been given a contemporary touch.

Silks and net make up the core of the collection with a colour palette of pinks, blues and dirty orange. The last batch of ivory white gowns was just perfect. Indian lehengas with gown-like skirts and net saris also made up a part of the collection. A lot of layers were evident throughout the assortment. Laces in all varieties and colours formed a major part of the group.

The dark lips of the model contrasted well with the pale colours of the collection. And no, the models were not walking expressionless! While passing one another, they would stop and look at each other – sometimes with admiration, sometimes with jealousy – perfectly portraying the well-known old English habits of society ladies. The drama was unmistakable in the show.

Showstopper, Indian actress Sonakshi Sinha, garnered a lot of applause as she strutted across the ramp with poise, giving an extremely confident smile. Her white, full sleeved gown was stuff made of dreams!

Manish Malhotra
Bollywood’s favourite designer Manish Malhotra pulled it off yet again. The collection, which commenced with Indian actress Sonam Kapoor’s surprise entry, showcased 25 diverse looks for women and five looks for men.

The collection aimed to capture the royal and opulent look of the pre-partition era, when English and Indian influences merged seamlessly to present a new genre, which prevailed in India from 1920 to 1940. Islamic influences can also be seen in the large, colourful borders given to the lehengas and anarkalis. Long coats over the lehengas seemed to be inspired by shararas. Innovative layering makes it a delight to view the collection!

The colour palette for womenswear was cherry reds and burgundys with tones of mint green, aqua, and off-whites. Men were treated to more neutral colours of blacks, burgundys, royal blue, beiges and gold.

It was certainly a unique idea with a new inspiration – quite unlike from the usual Bollywood genre for which Mr Malhotra is famous.

Gaurav Gupta
Aided by a fantastic AV presentation and flora and fauna on the stage, Gaurav Gupta set to create an ‘Enchanted Forest’ ambience with his collection. However, sometimes with models carrying those feather masks, I got more of a Venetian carnival feel. In any case, Gaurav Gupta outdid himself this time!

White lace dresses, light red gown, and scintillating bronze cocktail sari – the variety was endless and certainly exceptional.

Crystallized metallic drapes and an intense use of galactic Swarovski crystals redefined sarees, lehengas and gowns. Hues of ecru, watermelon and aquamarine make this collection striking while at the same time light and evanescent. The painted faces of the models gave an ‘another world’ look to the show. The audience certainly felt privileged to get this ‘peek-a-boo’ into the enchanted forest!

Rohit Bal
You can always depend on this maestro to make it grand. This time he did it in a distinctly Indian way with the stage and the air lined with mogras (jasmine).

Named ‘Shanti’ and slightly different from his usually heavy, rich designs and curvaceous motifs, Mr Bal’s couture collection was light, airy and pleasant to the eye. White lehengas and anarkalis, adorned with bright-coloured embroidery showed that beauty lies in simplicity. Brocade work on the border added a glamourous touch to the assortment.

A little heavier version of couture, in the form of long jackets and kurtas over lehengas, was also presented with a colour palette of dark blues, red and earthy tones.

The male models were draped in bandhgalas and jackets with a lot of velvet fabric and floral embroidery. The fragrance of mogras and the light collection did indeed produce peace, which was pleasantly broken by the entrance of model-actor Arjun Rampal! Clad in a velvet jacket and a t-shirt with the words ‘show-stopper’, he played and threw flowers at all! Rohit Bal himself made a grand entry in the end and both the celebrities ended the couture week with a shower of flowers!