October 11, 2013 Asmita Aggarwal

Weaving a New Language

Gaurav Jai Gupta wows with his intellectual prowess; Paromita Banerjee with her love for white and Mangalgiris; while Pankaj and Nidhi ‘cut the work’ with precision

The hardest part about success is sustainability and the fear of losing it all in a nanosecond….but husband-wife Pankaj & Nidhi seem to have mastered the art of getting it right, more than often, with lady luck firmly positioned in their charming ‘appliquéd’ pocket.

Their WIFW SS 14 line was a tribute to the Renaissance artisans, architects and painters who pushed the proverbial style envelope to create a new language of design.

Hoping to follow suit Pankaj and Nidhi were mesmerized by the churches in Poland, a country they had visited recently and a book they brought back with them. “The cutwork, all hand done, we haven’t used laser, is made to look like sculpture, and it took over 200 man hours to get the technique right. We were particularly fascinated by mosaic art, frescos and paintings of that period which were converted into prints you saw on our jackets, pencil skirts, bags among other things,” says Pankaj.

Using silk jersey, French tulle (which falls effortlessly), silk chiffon and net, the duo created sweat jackets, training pants, full-length dresses and jacket dresses (can be worn as a jacket and dress). Sheer and white made a deadly combo, with harem pants, slim pants teamed up with longer structured jackets made their way on to the catwalk. “Bags were a new addition, we have complemented the ensembles, so the prints are identical,” says Pankaj.

The duo who met while working with Rohit Bal (Pankaj for nine years and Nidhi for two) say that the one lesson they learnt from the master himself was “good aesthetics”.

And if the talk is about effective style, the man who stole the show on Day 2 was undoubtedly Gaurav Jai Gupta of Akaaro, which means auspicious in Sanskrit, generally affixed before the name of a God. Gaurav, who is a trained weaver himself, from the Chelsea College of Art and Design, UK, got the idea of this line when he saw a woman crossing the road wearing a Mother Teresa headdress. Missionaries of Charity devote their lives to a cause, but now we see how religion has become extreme, politically we are going down the hill, the economy is sliding, my line is an effort of initiate a dialogue,” he says.

Agreeing to the fact that fashion is quite individual, Gaurav has installed a loom at his studio so most of his pure silk and cotton in the line ‘Mod-erate’ was hand done. “I don’t sketch or do pattern cutting, but I do know how to weave and I mostly work with drapes,” he smiles.

Gaurav shies away from the Indian-ness and confesses that his approach to design is global, and without attempting to classify his customer, he adds, “she must be an intellectual, somebody who is unafraid to stand out from a sea of sequins”.

The other star of the day was the pint-sized wonder from Kolkata, Paromita Banerjee who has the design firepower of a war ready battle tank. Her line paid a tribute to Mangalgiri cottons, khadi, Malkha and Dhakkai Jamdanis. “I am a sentimental person, I like memories popping up and most of them are in white—-I like the smell of a new book, or the white paper rustling as I open a gift, that’s why you saw a lot of this pristine hue in my line. I also am a big fan of the crushed look, which is Bangla is called gile Punjabi,” she laughs.

Paromita divided her eclectic line into three categories—-Kora Safed, which is kora and gold; then came the classic black and whites; she ended with Raang-birang, which is multicolored. “The hardest part about working with weaves is deliveries so we work six months in advance,” she says.

The understated elegance was endearing, as Paromita kept the models barefoot baring a hand-made crochet accessory tied on the ankles. “We also used ombre dyes as they are quite statement-y,” she smiles.

The duo who never disappoint Priyanka and Ankur Modi wowed with their print placements on shirts and superbly finished super voluminous high waisted, pleated pants in heavenly royal blue. They initiated their story with pleasing sea blues, and took it a step forward with flaming orange, asymmetrical dresses, full sleeve shirts fastened with nifty cufflinks.

Some like to experiment, while others like a comfort zone, Samant Chauhan falls in the second category. His tussar floor gazing silhouettes with zardosi have been his signature and his muse Pallavi Sharda, the star of the Ranbir Kapoor starrer Besharam was appropriate, but what was refreshing was his subtle colour palette of organic colours. “I have done a commercial line, this is what sells,” he admits.

Pia Pauro is an avid traveler and this time too her line reflected postcards from Zanzibar, Tanzania. East Africa was mirrored in her feathered hair accessories, giraffes on long dresses, tasseled earrings which were accompanied by sassy totes.

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