By Sathya Saran
Every Fashion Week, be it in Delhi or Mumbai, the unspoken wish of the organizer remains unchanged. Will the week throw up the next Sabyasachi? Since the Kolkata designer stormed the fashion scene more than a decade ago, fashion seems to lie dormant. Young talent comes and goes, some manage to make a name for themselves by being consistent, and creative, but the blend of creativity and marketing sense that catapulted the Kolkata designer to the status he enjoys among India’s best-known names, is just not seen again.
Lakme’s Gen Next shows are a beacon of the brand’s unending hope for new talent. And sometimes there is a lucky find. Rahul Misra, a Gen Next discovery, has become a firm player in the fashion scene, known for his creativity, high standard, and his patronage of Indian textiles. FDCI too runs a High Five show series, for youngsters, and though there are glimpses of genius, the sustainability that fashion demands to remain a player in the marketplace is not always evident.
Three bright stars that shone on the ramp at Lakme Fashion Week, if all goes well, may make it to tomorrow’s bestseller list in stores across the country. Two of these are from the North east. Perhaps a longstanding tradition of home weaving and a borrowed edginess of stylish dressing make the North eastern sensibility attuned to high fashion. The snag, however, has been sustainability, as the designers often live far removed from the metros. This is luckily not the case with both Asa Kazingmei and Sailex N.G., both of whom show unlimited potential.
Asa Kazingmei, a Gen Next designer, uses fabric like a blank canvas to create designs on. Working close to his roots, the young Manipur-based designer cut-draped and shaped shawls of the Tangkhul Naga tribe, who live in the Ukhrul district of the state, to dazzling effect. Indian weaves have variety and drama, and the shawls of the Nagas are known not just for their striking colors, but for the vivid patterns woven into them, and each tribe has its individual design. Asa’s debut collection on the ramp showed a maturity in his way with adapting the shawls into silhouettes. Weaves were positioned for maximum drama, the red of the shawls forming a brilliant jeweled backdrop for the woven and embroidered patterns that spoke of a long cultural history in cloth.
Cutting and constructing his garments with professional maturity, Asa also added drama with stand up collars, flowing hemlines, wired asymmetrical skirts. Chiffon and lighter fabric combined at times with the heavy drape of the shawls to create whimsical, textural contrasts. If he can build on this combination of the traditional and the new, blending Western style with heritage, Asa will find himself a loyal clientele, not just in India but beyond.
Edgy is how one would term Sheha Arora, also a Gen Next debutante at Lakme Fashion Week. Though Sheha believes in the androgynous look in fashion, her collection combined color, silhouette and cut in a manner unmistakably feminine. Cute was a word that came to mind, though cute gained an edge with her combination of flowered prints with grey workplace solids. Her jackets were noteworthy, as were her sharply cut blazers, displaying dexterity with the scissors and patterning. If the opening outfit, a grey dress with a smoky detail of a face printed on it, a box pleat at the back and a shoulder zip is any indication of things to come, this young designer bears watching.
Like Asa, Sailex Ngairangbam also hails from Manipur. Like Asa, he too debuted through Gen Next, but in 2008. Trained at NIFT where his lazy ways almost lost him his seat, he flirted with the corporate world of garment manufacture, only to fly off to Domus Academy in Italy. His sensibilities, unlike Asa’s, however run towards the Western.
Glamour is a key word in Sailex’s collections, and he has consistently celebrated the woman with cinched creations that caress the torso to flow in soft folds from the waist to the ankles. Bright yellows, soft lacy blues and rich jade greens, solids and hound’s-tooth worked as his palette for a range of clothes that included quilted jackets, pea coats, swim suits, one-shoulder dresses and saris, sexy and see-through yet elegant, the thin silver belt holding the collection together as a delectable offering to the sophisticate. Sailex NG has been around, and shows staying power. May the power stay with him!