Going beyond the classic winter jackets and boots, this season finds leather on peek-a-boo dresses, sari blouses and miniskirts. Finding international designers like London-based Hussein Chalayan experimenting with this luxe fabric, the trend has also been picked by celebrities like Anushka Sharma, recently spotted in a Nikhil Thampi burgundy halterneck dress with leather trim. Chalayan says, “It’s about playing with natural fluidity and structure in a way that doesn’t feel forced, making it highly wearable.” We track down designers like Thampi and others, who are adding quirk to both western and Indian silhouettes.
Having launched her brand Ikai in 2012, this former graphic designer turned fashion designer, loves to use leather appliqué work on her A-line dresses and tunics. The 25-year-old says, “Leather gives an edgy look to outfits. I aim at creating highly wearable clothing by reinterpreting the traditional Indian aesthetic in a non-traditional way. My label has carved a niche with its unconventional use of leather and age-old techniques like shibori in offbeat ways.” Ahuja’s signature outfit is a cotton silk gown featuring floral prints, a navy blue base with brown leather applique on the centre panel and slits in the front and the back.
“I like to keep my outfits simple and fuss free. Leather accentuates the edginess of any outfit, be it a leather gown, a pencil skirt or cut-out dresses with leather tapering. I believe in constantly re-inventing and experimenting, rather than keeping it predictable and boring,” says the 28-year-old. One of the interesting pieces from Label, his brand, is a ruffled tan leather gown, with a makeshift wrapped look, a high front slit and a brass rose embellished belt that makes it a signature piece.
Having launched his brand, Soup, in 2010, Paul, 32, has leather crop tops with palazzos or a sari blouse with leather details. “Leather has a long way to go considering the fact that we are also a tropical country. I like to use them in terms of panelling and embroidery, mostly with modern cuts,” he says, adding that his classic is a black leather jacket paired with a printed ruched midiskirt.
Urvashi Joneja spent four years in design merchandising and brand management with brands like Diesel, Amy Butler, Ralph Lauren, and Versace in both New York and India, before launching her eponymous label in 2012. Her experiment with leather saw a different aspect through 3D leather on western silhouettes. The 27-year-old Delhi designer says, “I think leather is on a steady rise and clients are open to trying different techniques of embellishments and materials. I incorporate leather as laser cut pieces into the embroidery and sometimes as a scallop edging, giving it a very modern look.” Her favourite is a heart-shaped 3D leather applique work on an asymmetrical black netted cape.
Monisha Jaising’s collection ranges from luxury sportswear to resort wear, evening wear and bridal couture. Her brand’s motto is luxury expressed in a contemporary, fresh and edgy way. “I use a lot of embroideries to bring out an amalgamation of intricate techniques and uniquely draped silhouettes. Considering that leather is now being used extensively by Indian designers, I tried incorporating it in bridal wear,” says Jaising, 50, whose leather lehenga embellished with heavy golden embroidery is a classic. She lent it a chic look by pairing it with a white tied-up linen shirt.