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The FDCI LFW 2022 brought to the fore the need for joy, the importance of recycling and why sustainability should be at the core of style.
It is a historic moment for the devotees of fashion, as after almost 16 years the India Fashion Week, travelled to Mumbai, for a physical format. It was as if things are back to where it all began--- and if the recently concluded LFW FDCI is anything to go by, the focus is on staying optimistic after the dark clouds of the pandemic have been lifted.
So, what has been the landscape of fashion in a world that is embracing austerity and sustainability ---two key factors which have changed the way we consume clothes. If you look at how young people are viewing the spectrum of style, they want comfort, but also responsible clothing.
New entrants altering our psychology like Pratyush Kumar Maurya, who’s label Pieux means “Pure’ in French, are looking at creating ensembles by reusing, upcycling and recycling, using what already exists without creating more; just like Belgian great Martin Margiela envisioned in the 80s ---effective deconstruction. His luxury sustainable label Pieux won the Circular Design Challenge (in partnership with UN) in March 2022 showcased his latest collection at LFW.
Maurya’s entire collection this year, was crafted out of plastic bottles, upcycled cotton, carpet waste used to make not just clothes but also bags, footwear and eyewear. The eyewear was so interesting that you can now buy parts of the glasses and not throw away your old ones, if they break—the broken part will be replaced. Recycled polyester was also added, and there are ingenious new materials that designers are experimenting with to make sure Planet Earth is preserved.
Pratyush Kumar, added, “Illusion, my line was successfully depicted with the help of pleats and prints for our athleisure pieces. The association with Circular Design Challenge (CDC) has been amazing. It gave me the recognition as a circular label. Winning CDC also helped me with the procurement of future of fabric, R|Elan. The exposure that I got because of the Circular Design Challenge has been brilliant. It also provided me a platform to showcase my work which is nothing less than a dream.”
Fashion is the worst polluter in the world producing 10% of global carbon dioxide, according to the United Nations Environment Programme and one-fifth of the 300 million tons of plastic produced globally each year. Thus, the move to using organic cotton which is grown without the use of GMO seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, and insecticides. It is rainfed, guaranteeing less water wastage. Organic cotton farmers rotate crops and utilize the compost process for good soil maintenance.
Ethical textile standards say that crop varieties must be grown in rotation with organic cotton such as cereals or grains as they help give soil fertility to organic cotton. Pratyush wanted to use things that are environmentally safe and most of his ensembles also are undyed and natural.
Mumbai designer Nikita Mhaisalkar excessively used hemp to create her destination clothing brand, things you can take with you while you are holidaying. She tells us that the only way to survive in a world that is fast changing is to use materials which are less harmful. She chose hemp, which is a derivative of Cannabis sativa, it requires fewer land and resources and it grows quickly. Neither is it water intensive and the fabulous part of this process is that buying this material is wearing something that is biodegradable. If you compare research, it reveals that a hemp garment can last 30 years unlike a cotton one, which is just five to six years.
Anju Modi’s collection “Damyanti’ showcased in October this year at FDCIXLFW was based on using Tencel the fabric of the future, and she confessed, even if you are a brand that has a traditional ethos, making it tech-savvy was the only way to move forward. Rayon is made from wood pulp, but lyocell is one step forward, as it doesn’t use any chemicals to process, this the name Tencel made from eucalyptus trees and not pine or beech. Bonus: it is naturally dyed. “This was in tune with my philosophy of being conventional and going back to your roots,” says Anju.
The most important lesson that the duo David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore taught us this season as they completed 30 years in the business of fashion is that you don’t need to buy more, you need to know how to style a sari you bought ten years ago with something new. That’s why their showstopper wore a double ikat handwoven silk houndstooth saree in black and amla which was presented in 2011 for the collection called ‘Masculine and Feminine’.
What Carol Gracias wore back then was with a matching blouse, this year, sequins were added to give it a contemporary nuance. This is the magic of styling and also their theme --- linking the past, present and future. So a tussar saree can be converted into silk georgette with weave innovations and kurtas styled as dresses, their love for khadi is never ending, but now it has been intermingled with viscose, a dollop of sequins to give it an edge.
Akshat Bansal of the label Bloni, has taken us a step closer to making fashion both fun and sustainable. Metal mesh, recycled pet bottles, along with metal fabric crafted out of chain mail created an interesting spectrum. The collection had rubber cut geometrically, heat-sensitive surfaces that change colours based on body heat, which he combined with crochet, tie-dye, handwoven denim and regenerated textiles like marine nylon and metal mesh.
Akshat Bansal said, “A forward direction in fashion needs to have a point of view, a framework and a parallel aesthetic to multiple dimensions, including the digital realm while using tech materials, making design beyond gender and future friendly.”
The Hisar-born designer has just returned from Paris Fashion Week, where he showcased 8 pieces to a discerning audience. He has been admired for being a conscious designer who has recycled fishing nets, econyl, regenerated nylon, carpet flooring, scarps, industrial waste and parachutes.
Rina Singh of the label Eka took this opportunity to show the world how clothes are an epitome of joy, they have the power to transform moods. She dipped into personal experiences- when her clients who bought and wore her outfits, during the pandemic took those pieces out and remembered the occasions where they enlivened evenings. Fashion is empowering, was the belief and Rina used the often told story “Alice in Wonderland” to explain how we all fell and then learnt to rise again, the innate super abilities to tell ourselves no matter how dark the night was there will always be a bright morning.
The quintessential tea party becomes a slumber party where you wake up and discover the world has moved on, so it’s time you do too, with a smile on your face. “I used pixelated floral motifs in jamdani, soft cottons, and silks in layered silhouettes, this was my way of telling a story,” she explains. She added block prints on hand-woven fabrics like cotton and cotton silk, Kota, linen and blends; innovations in Jamdani with bright colours brought a celebration of life. She has always been an advocate of free and fluid, gingham checks to delicate stripes.
Instead of embellishment she added smocking, pin tucks, laces which crafted dresses, summer jackets, peplum blouses, sheer robes and peasant tunics. Talking about her line, “It’s Only a Dream” she explained, “I fall for beauty and cherish the little nuances that life offers us... if there is a choice to look at reality and face it grimly in the face or weave a fantasy, I choose to do the latter and find solace in beauty and art. Therefore, this season is an ode to the eternal romantics and the creators and the storytellers for giving the world stories we can still hide in.”
Mumbai-based Payal Singhal wanted to add the hues of happiness with a celebration of being alive even though she calls herself a pastel girl. She was also tired of the whole anti-fit movement, this season she got the “sexy back”. The kalidar shararas came armed with tie-back cholis, pants with tie-up half lehengas, ruffled blouses, but the most stunning part were the embroideries and prints that resembled a painter’s brush strokes. Payal’s grandfather was a renowned painter, and she has always been interested in art, until fashion took over her life. Bandhini served as her canvas, which she intermingled with zardozi, mukaish and woollen thread work to appeal to a global audience.
“I have approached each outfit like a painting — a sketch that evolves into a silhouette, then layered with fabrics, textures, embellishments, and colours; just like multiple strokes come together to create an artwork. I did not abide by any rules of perceived rights or wrongs. Just a whole-heartedly artistic endeavour to enable our PS Girls to express their true selves through these clothes,” said Payal.
The flavour was the reason to exist in this world, but that too enjoying every moment of it as no one knows what tomorrow might bring. This was the sentiment that overruled the fashion week.
Asmita Aggarwal has been a journalist for the last 30 years having edited publications like– HT City, Cosmopolitan, L’Officiel, Patriot and Asian Age/Deccan Chronicle. She recently won an award from the FDCI for her contribution to fas ...
hion journalism and also put together a book titled “Chrysalis” for Anand and Anand, a law firm released by designer Manish Malhotra at the Jaipur Literature Festival.
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