March 18, 2017 Asmita Aggarwal

We are the champions


Does fashion need pretty or wise? The latter is becoming more relevant in the time-space continuum

By Asmita Aggarwal

We all take journeys in our life, some we will remember till infinity, others are just ephemeral, but Samant Chauhan, the boy who has put Bhagalpur on the fashion map is kind of an anomaly. Here’s why—he chose an offbeat site, a place where the Jimmy Choo flaunting fashionistas would scarcely visit (the National Rail Museum) and then rather than crème brulee, he served kulhad chai and fenugreek mathis…not a fashion fare most would say, but some would agree that it took them straight down memory lane.

A lane where, in our childhoods, we crossed miles and miles of paddy fields, small rickety bridges, and forests when we travelled with our parents in sleeper class, admiring the silence of the woods! Paying homage to Muga silk the handwriting of Assam, Samant’s oversized collars, pockets and sleeves sharply constructed floor length ensembles flew down the catwalk, an ingenious one—-in between two historic rail coaches.


Undoubtedly, his prowess lies in the way he constructs leather—the vintage looking suitcases, backpacks, clutches with just evanescent hints of embroideries were memorable. The unfinished feel of the satchels and hold alls was endearing and the brogues, charming as the jazz music playing in the background made his buttery white palette, soothing to the eyes on a plein air venue, complete with gravel and railway tracks.


The bodices of his gowns came embroidered and his off shoulder dresses had tie up details, while what made them sparkle was the red lining he gives to offset his favourite hue, the uncomplicated white.

The AIFW believes in the business of fashion and maybe that’s why the concentration is always on ingenuity and crafts rather than 70 MM shimmer. But what is it about stars that draw in audiences? Is it popularity, or us folks being simply star-stuck or us wanting a piece of their godly lives? Vani Kapoor the siren from the delicious Ranveer Singh starrer Befikre lit up Rina Dhaka’s show on the second day of the AIFW AW’17. Rina, the woman who made the transparent churidaar part of Indian fashion’s formidable lexicon in the 90s, gave her ubiquitous tussars, a rather faded out look, and enlivened her charcoal blacks with little flowers.

Quite the contrary were the two young designers from Huemn, Pranav Mishra and Shyama Shetty, who kinda built their street ‘cred’ on water sprinkled hoodies, and sporty… well…everything. What has caught the fancy of the Paris catwalks is a new label called Vetements, run by the Balenciaga tour de force and Russian guru Demna Gvasalia, who has made streetwear mainstream fashion, and that’s somewhat, what Huemn did, as it appears to be.


And can you really go wrong, if you have a model opening the show putting his washboard abs on display? You will probably see an audience dominated by 20-somethings going..ahem a bit in raptures, so a hundred smartphones were up, just to capture and later admire those well-worked out abs! As they say it is in your g(j)eans, Huemn showed ripped, frayed and torn ones along with 70s star Jeetendra style flared-at-the-bottom pants, complete with oversized bomber jackets.

What was the most interesting aspect was the detailing—on one sleeve, three techniques were used—synthetic (latex, I am guessing) along with denims and frayed hems to give it that grungy appeal. What also came along was the androgynous power suit for women (remember Melanie Griffith in the blockbuster The Working Girl?) and paint splattered pants as well as the flashy red, voluminous bombers.

The only prettiness that flirted with us, was the flower decked mid-length dress that schmoozed in the end! The question is not whether we ‘can’ do feminine, the question rather is do we ‘want’ to do it. Huemn must also be applauded for being gender inclusive, so you had the first transgender model Anjali Lama walk the ramp, as everyone was invited to this party!

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If there is a mystical thing called trends, that come and overtake our lives only to leave us hungry for more, Pankaj and Nidhi satiated that unquenchable desire. Monochromes, appliqué and stripes and checks, was explicitly seen in this show as much as it was in Milan and New York. But their little lovin’ touches could be witnessed in the way they added just a sliver of colour in the baby pink and blue lining on their capes. The zigzags and chessboard prints along with English singing typhoon Lennon-style glasses were uber cool as well as the omnipresent white shirt!

pankaj and nidhicol

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