Felix Bendish knows how to open at Lakme Fashion Week.
Far from there just being four style capitals of the world, Fashion Week takes over in many nations twice a year and brings the new season to buyers and press. You might not get to read as much about them unless you specifically look for designers or round-ups, but it's worth keeping an eye on what the catwalk has to offer when it's not based in London, Paris, Milan or New York.
Today I'm turning my attention to India, where Lakme Fashion Week is a huge event. I watched the Bollywood film Fashion a few years ago and have been admiring the country's creative output ever since. Here are the designers who you should be watching, if autumn/winter 2012 is anything to go by...
Aarti Vijay Gupta produced a really intelligent and graphic collection.
Mixing quirky sketches and precise colour wheels and educational charts, this was Aarti Vijay Gupta's exercise in how to add a touch of the cerebral to your clothes. The glasses worn by the models might have taken the geek motif a bit too literally but otherwise this was a really well-produced range that wouldn't look out of place in a British boutique. I definitely want the last dress in the image above - the anatomical print is just too good to miss.
Dolly J's take on autumn/winter reminded me a lot of Ralph Lauren.
I could see a lot of Ralph Lauren's extravagant evening gowns and autumnal colour palette in Dolly J's range, but she gave it an injection of personality that added Bollywood flavour with the embellished top seen on the left and the layers of different fabrics and finishes on the chest of the dress on the right. And, whereas Lauren kept things severe with Downton Abbey decorum, Dolly's outfits were a lot more free-spirited.
One of the coolest trends I spotted was 'half and half':
cutting vertically into the design with a different colour or style.
L-R: Kiran &; Meghna; Gaurav Gupta; Tahera Peeran.
I love the cut-and-paste style of panelled clothing (apart from horrendous 90s patchwork denim - yes, it still makes me shudder) and when it's done as well as these three examples then it shows how much fun you can have when you divert from the norm. My favourite is Gaurav Gupta's pink dress with half a sleeved jacket, which takes a leaf out of Vivienne Westwood's book with an Anglomania feel.
Some designs gave a strong nod to Western fashion.
L-R: Drashta Sarvaiya; Nupur Kanoi (looking very Balmain); Mrinalini.
A trio of eye-catching shapes on the catwalk that caught my attention.
L-R: Gaurav Gupta; Virtues; Pankaj & Nidhi.
Virtues went for a sculptural edge with a distinct Gothic-meets-folklore feel.
Another unmissable collection that I was drawn to was the folkloric Virtues, with heavy boots and bold trims contrasting with flowing fabrics. What's more, most of it was distinctly wearable and wouldn't look out of place on the red carpet or in the pages of Western fashion magazines. I definitely think that more fashion editors should look to Indian designers for inspiration and photo shoot material, as there's a wealth of talent out there.