The future of design is here as young talent catches eye at Lakme Fashion Week

A fresh crop of designers stood out at the recent Lakme Fashion Week. Here are our favourite five to watch out for
Hailing from Dholpur, Rajasthan, Prasoon Sharma of label Triune, relies on his cultural background to fuel his creative endeavours. (Photo | Triune Instagram, website)
Hailing from Dholpur, Rajasthan, Prasoon Sharma of label Triune, relies on his cultural background to fuel his creative endeavours. (Photo | Triune Instagram, website)

A week dedicated to fashion can be overwhelming for the most ardent of fashionistas, yet some designers manage to stand out in the crowd—be it for their creativity, a balance between age-old crafts and cutting-edge techniques or their reliance on high-quality fabrics. During the recently concluded Lakme Fashion Week in partnership with the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), our eye was firmly observing the younger talent. All labels under five years old in the business, and all of whose work we are eager to see more of in the future.

Playful yet wearable garments with clean, straight lines are Khetan’s hallmark. Her fabrics guide her designs, and she enjoys working with lightweight handloom materials and dyeing techniques like Shibori. In this collection, she showed fitted skirts, tunics, blouses with balloon sleeves, ruched fitted dresses and embellished blazers. The highlight was her showstopper—a floor-length tunic bearing a geometric design carved out in tiny sequins, with two thigh-high slits running up the centre.

Peeking through these slits was a pair of sheer ivory pants made in a gauzy fabric, ensuring the garment remained modest yet fun. The sequin design was the recreation of a sonogram by French artist, Yoann Ximenes, based on the sound of an extinct bird. “I dedicate a great amount of time researching each collection, studying scientific publications and then transforming that information into fabrics and embroideries,” says the young designer.

What began as an athleisure label during the pandemic has now blossomed into a brand that seeks to marry varied design influences from the East and West. The new-age garments by designer Arnav Malhotra’s No Grey Area are inspired by the sari and other Indian silhouettes. These include high-slit one-shoulder dresses, cropped tops paired with boxy pants and wide-lapel jackets, cargo suit sets, oversized coats, and waistcoats paired with mini-skirts similar to lungis.

The colours are bright and the influence of South Indian culture is apparent through a recurring print of Kolam drawings, traditional mirror work and Madras checks. Titled Inconvenience Today for a Better Tomorrow, the collection uses zero-waste pattern-making techniques. “We strive to be bold and expressive while incorporating the fascinating elements of Indian fashion in a new and contemporary light,” Malhotra says.

A standout outfit from Gupta’s Failed Promises collection was a white full-sleeved floor-length dress made of a rough net-like fabric. A mask and a pair of gloves—in the same colour as the dress—covered the head and hands of the model. The whiteness was broken by a wide denim-like belt that cinched in the waist. Yet, neither was the dress made of net, nor the belt of denim. Both were made out of lightweight 3D-printed cotton to create the dystopian, disturbing effect. Describing himself as an activist first and designer later, Gupta who hails from Ayodhya, uses his creations to make a statement. About this collection, he says, “I want to bring attention to the plight of manual scavengers who belong to marginalised communities. They face hazardous conditions, health risks and social stigma.”

The mantra of Kapoor’s label, which he has co-founded with fellow designer Pooja Haldar, is “think global, act tribal”. The motto comes through in their new collection of bouncy, vibrant and playful prints in earthy tones and flattering silhouettes. It consists of asymmetrical skirts paired with mirror-work cropped tops, knee-length skirts modelled on dhoti drapes worn with boots, heavily embroidered jackets, and intricate panels embellishing the necks of anti-fit tunics. In the range titled Beyond Ken, the duo seeks to highlight the dichotomy of life, where celebration and strife often coincide. “Our approach is community- and craft-driven. So, wherever we showcase in the world, our ethos will remain Indian,” they say.

Hailing from Dholpur, Rajasthan, Prasoon Sharma of label Triune, relies on his cultural background to fuel his creative endeavours, whether it is creating a proprietary mulmul fabric called cactus, which is stone-washed to look like denim, or making thin but sturdy tassels of cotton to hang from these pieces. The result is a unique line of menswear—Bivouac— consisting of jackets, shorts, pants and shirts in tones of brown and black offset with splashes of vibrant lime greens and rich cobalt blues. “I have always loved playing with fabrics, and been inspired by nature. By creating this new material, we help to conserve water and use less chemicals to make light and breathable fabrics,” he says.

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The New Indian Express