Should fashion be evolutionary? Must it look at alternatives to cloth? Can paper be moulded? And are monochromes eternal…Pratap answers all this with quiet ease and an ‘eye’ on the future
By Asmita Aggarwal
It was just what AIFW SS’18 needed…desperately a dose of high voltage energy. And the only show of the season that could have given us that effortlessly was by Rajesh Pratap Singh and his ode to everything unorthodox.
From the geometrical eyewear designed by Tanira Sethi and Kolkata-based artist Jayanta Roy, her father Sunil, proudly flaunted, as he opened the show in his characteristic swagger, dressed in all black, the real elusive rockstar Pratap, just let the clothes do the talking. “Mr Sethi was kind enough to offer me this eyewear range, Indie Eye, which is truly avant-garde in its shape,” says Pratap.
His love for music has been ongoing, therefore the homage to Jimi Hendrix, Prince and David Bowie, irrefutable icons who redefined the way we look at clothing through purple-tinted glasses. “My love for music is immense and we lost a few of my favourite artists recently, so this was a kind of homage,” he adds.
He put his men in pleated skirts, but the artistry was in the construction of the jackets and exaggerated shoulders that were a mainstay of the 80s. Also the manner in which he tied in stripes and polka dots in a monochromatic haze. Checks played balances and oversized, quilted coats, his signature nifty leather details on androgynous double breasted jackets, accessorised with combat boots or sometimes Mary Janes, juxtaposing structure with fluidity.
The striped suit is enjoying its moment in the sun, though Pratap dressed women in just waistcoats too, stripping it off, its masculinity and making it functional, just what he did with steel, which he sinuously crafted into succinct jackets to be worn with his 60s wide legged trousers with sports detailing on the sides.
When the country is talking about Made in India and the khadi movement, Pratap added X factor to that too and made shoes out of the hand spun fabric. With palms coloured white along with white beads on the faces of models, Pratap insists that minimalism in not a Western concept, rather it is rooted in Indian-ness, much like the purity that the Kerala sari exudes.
A believer in technology and how it has permeated the fabric of human life, he used paper, just like Issey Miyake and his quest to make clothes that are experimental and research oriented. If we dip into fashion history back in the 80s, Miyake made ensembles out of plastic, wire and also paper and termed them as ‘Body Works’.
And this ingenuity you could witness in his innovative crushing techniques; this quiet resolve can also be spotted in the way Pratap approaches design, through the prism of, “what more”, offering urban solutions to the way we dress which holds enduring appeal and resonance.
Must clothes be evolutionary? Yes. And that’s why this perspicacious approach can be seen in his choice of showstopper too, Abhay Doel, who may have the genes of a bodybuilder, but the muscle he exercises most are those in his head. He too left acting to pursue a course in pottery (2009) in New York at the height of his successful career, after completing the critically acclaimed Dev D hoping to do more than just acting. And what really helps to carry off a Pratap ensemble is those gorgeous dimples and if you throw in a day old beard, voila you have a dreamboat, the deadly Deol! “I have always found Abhay to be super intelligent and I’m his fan,” admitted Pratap.
But it was a mutual complementary society, as Abhay was taken aback by Pratap’s request to be his star for the evening, and also honoured, he confessed. As Tom Petty crooned Free Falling in the background, fashion finally found a saviour, albeit a reluctant one!