July 25, 2016 Asmita Aggarwal

The Grand Inquisitor

Whether it was abuse of absolute power or political intrigue, the Czars of Russia who ruled for more than a 1,000 years courted decadence like no other. It is this Byzantine influence in Rastrelli’s Winter Palace or the sheer grandeur in the neo-classical St Isaac’s cathedral and a lot more opulence that Rohit Bal has recreated through his ode to the country in ‘Kehkashaan’.

By Asmita Aggarwal

If there is a showman in the world of Indian fashion, it is Rohit Bal as not only can he pull off a theme which his contemporary has done before, he can does it with aplomb! If JJ Valaya did Bolshoi Bazaar, Rohit paid a fitting tribute to the sheer ornate-ness of the Czars, whether it was Peter the Great, Catherine or Nicholas II, who changed the way the Duma worked in his reinterpretation, with jewelled headpieces encrusted with stones as well as silver scepters.

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The elegant restraint came through the Imperial Court uniform recasting which Bal did through his all white floor length ensembles which came fully embroidered boasting of natty details like zari border and churi sleeves. It was a no-holds-bar splendour as Rohit and his bevy of supporters, amidst cheering ushered in embellished belts and high collared angarakhas in velvet.

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Interestingly, what remains de rigueur now is jackets worn with lehengas, which Bal did with ease, but what he is also known for is his superb finish and attention to detail which came through his quilted lehengas executed in darker tones. The capes in luxurious black, the crinkledangarakhas in grey and the emergence of the eponymous poppy and pleasing chrysanthemums kept the little pearls appearing sporadically on tunics delightful.

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In the cropped button down jackets the motifs were majestic and the velvet shoes too came encrusted with stones as the embroidery placement remained unique, with Bal choosing to rev up the elbows, sometimes waist or keep the focus on just the pockets.

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The saris were worn with capes as the red, shining swans embroidered made it a narrative that was akin to the balls held at the Winter Palace at St Petersburg. The scarlets were offset on a canvas of charcoal black which made a striking contrast with just snatches of gold through the use of zardosi. Reeking of exactitude, this collection heralds Bal as a modern master who can bridge time periods through a subtle swish of threadwork as he captures the architecture, colours and character of a time when the echoes of lustre were fantastically euphoric.

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