Sunday, 8 September 2013

Lakme and Wills India Fashion Week: Who to Watch for Autumn/Winter 2013

So, New York Fashion Week may have just started, but I'm still in the whirlwind of India's style options for this season. Here I'm not only focusing on the recent output from the Lakme shows in Mumbai, but also from Wills India Fashion Week, which takes place in New Delhi and is organised by the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI); the main difference here is that WIFW showed its Autumn/Winter 2013 collections back in March, whereas LFW has only just revealed the same season's offerings. 

However, as all of the clothing is designed to be worn right now and in the coming months, it makes sense - in my head, at least - to combine a selection from the two events. 

 Soldiering onto the catwalk with Sneha Arora [All images by
Dwaipayan Mazumdar, via].

Sneha Arora (shown at LFW)

Arora studied at Kolkata's National Institute of Fashion Technology and has come a long way from her Gen Next status at last year's Winter/Festive shows. Last season she gave us a collection that balanced slim silhouettes and precise tailoring with billowing dresses using incredible photo prints of balloons, fluffy clouds, stormy skies and eagles, making you think of flight, independence and freedom. 

This time around it was all about restricting that freedom and turning to vintage military influences, creating 'Soldier's Story': yet again it used prints based on photos, but this time they dominated certain sections and crept into the overall outfit, rather than being prominent on first glance. You might almost assume the figures were abstract, until you look a little closer.

 Lady Gaga, eat your heart out - Nida Mahmood's eccentric adventuress rules.

Nida Mahmood (shown at WIFW)

'Steampunking away!' was the order of the day for Mahmood's fictional character, Captain Must! Qalandar, who formed the basis of her A/W13 line; to call it playful doesn't really go far enough. There's an energy and an artfulness here that places her work somewhere between Lady Gaga's Haus of Gaga and the effervescence of London's young designers like Louise Gray and Meadham Kirchhoff. Mahmood, like Arora, trained at NIFT, but she's also a self-taught artist with a passion for making wearable art.

It's often said by both industry insiders and the public that fashion takes itself too seriously, but Nida Mahmood shows that not everyone lives up to this stereotype, and with good reason.

Are you a 'fashion ninja', as Mrinalini's ladies have been called?

Mrinalini (shown at WIFW)

The 'black comic narrative' running through this collection allowed plain formal touches (the chunky shoes, the briefcase and the trilby) to clash with carefully planned injections of colour, fun and texture. 

This was a real move away from the full-on colour and cartoon-like feel of Mrinalini's S/S13 line, which seemed to have raided the paintbox, but it retained an experimental nature. I'm sure that a lot of these pieces will have commercial appeal and will be snapped up by shoppers.

The next chance to see the designers of Wills India Fashion Week will be in early October, when I'll take a look at what they've got in store for our summer wardrobes of 2014.

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