February 7, 2017 9:41:31 pm
THEY took their first faltering steps on the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) ramp in April, 2006. And since then Kolkata boys Debarghya Bairagi and Navonil Das, better known in fashion circles as the label Dev r Nil, have not only established themselves as a credible brand, but have managed to carve a niche for themselves in the teeming talent pool of the famed ‘Bengal School of Design’.
And on Wednesday evening, after a nine-year-long marked absence from the LFW ramp, the designer duo returned to Mumbai with a fashion presentation on Day One of the Summer/Resort 2017 edition of LFW. ‘The Valley of Missing Flowers’ was not only their spring-summer diffusion offering, but also a tribute to “people living in conflict zones”.
Inspired by photographer Bharat Sikka’s photo-series on Kashmir titled “Where the Flowers Still Grow” displayed at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the duo sought to capture the frailty of the current-day situation in the area. “We don’t want to exploit the Kashmir issue, but we also realise how fragile the beauty of Kashmir and other conflict zones is,” said Nil. Laid out like a sombre tableau at the 6Degree Studio, the presentation saw models in the form of live mannequins displaying outfits, ensembles placed on tombstone-like platforms with a recording of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator speech driving their point home.
“The idea was to show the garment as an art form, where people can observe the textures, prints and details,” said Nil. And the method of presentation was as different as their design oeuvre has been. Not for them the couture extravagance of Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Anamika Khanna, the draped drama of Kiran Uttam Ghosh, the avant garde flair of Kallol Datta or the textile explorations of Monapali, Soumitra Mondal and others of their ilk. The designers, who’ve built their reputation on clever, contemporary clothing with interesting prints, graphics and surface textures, chose to reinterpret traditional textiles through embroidery.
What looked like Bengali jamdani was actually applique work, the ikats were recreated in a detailed embroidered format and their trademark prints too met three-dimensional embroidery. The collection clearly marked their shift towards slow and meaningful fashion.
“As a brand that has matured, we are moving towards slightly more detailed, timeless pieces, which can be cherished, valued and worn over a period of time,” said Dev. And the decision to showcase at LFW this season was also a well-calculated move for the two. “After demonetisation, buyers were not ready to invest in clothes that would come to stores months later. So, commercially it made sense to show in-season and start getting orders immediately,” said the ever-pragmatic Dev. The fact that the show felt like a home-coming was an added bonus. “We started in Mumbai and it remains one of our most active markets. So, we felt that it was time to re-connect,” he adds.
What’s a fashion week in Mumbai without its Bollywood quotient? City boy Kunal Rawal’s show not only had a gleaming Lamborghini Huracan (show sponsor) take centre stage, he also had Bollywood heart-throb Varun Dhawan play showstopper. And for the curtain call the two pulled Arjun Kapoor off his front row seat and took a collective bow. Making for the perfect photo-op, the filmi friends swept Rawal off his feet, literally. (PIC: Nirmal Harindran)
IMG-Reliance yesterday announced India’s participation at the International Fashion Showcase (IFS), to be held during London Fashion Week later this month. And the young designer labels slated to represent Indian talent and creativity on the global platform will be Antar-Agni by Ujjawal Dubey, Ikai by Ragini Ahuja, Ka-Sha by Karishma Shahani Khan, P.E.L.L.A by Priyanka Ella Lorena Lama and Kaleekal by Alan Alexander. The IFS is the first of many fashion activities planned during the India-UK Year of Culture 2017. PIC: no credit
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