March 14, 2019 Asmita Aggarwal

Arabian Nights

Diksha Khanna uses sharp contrasts and bold choices to bring to life ‘Hadith- A Desert Storm,’ her Autumn Winter 2019 collection, inspired by the bustling bazaars and quiet deserts of the East

Amongst the greatest of Diksha Khanna’s creations, the coveted denim sari holds a special standing. The bright blue sari holds a strong element of tradition, despite the designer’s copious use of heavily distressed denim to create it. The result is playful, yet clever. Rooted to culture, with a factor of innovation that reaches for the stars.

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This element of dichotomy lies at the heart of Diksha’s personality, brand and creations. “My brand looks at unifying elements that are on opposite ends of the spectrum,” she says. Her celebration of contrasts, and efforts to unify them through her artistic creations are reflective of the designer’s evolved aesthetic sensibilities. “The Indian market has moved beyond its tendencies to invest only in glamour and glitz. The pret space is witnessing a rapidly growing market – which is proof of evolving lifestyles and a newfound appreciation of experimental design,” she says.

Diksha, who launched her label of the same name, has had a long-standing love for textiles. Her fascination for fabrics made its debut in the stockroom of her grandfathers textile business in Almora, where Diksha and her brother used to play excitedly with the fabrics – thrilled to see each take a different shape and fall. From touching and feeling every fabric imaginable at a tender age, this love translated into bachelors in fashion design from National Institute of Fashion Technology and a Masters degreefrom School of Design and Textile at University of Leeds, United Kingdom.

What followed was a job with British designer Unmi, which gave Diksha an in depth understanding of not just design, but also discipline.  “The ways of the west taught me to be more independent. From garment construction, to the subtle nuances behind expert pattern cutting, I learnt a lot. This is also where I learnt the importance of research and development, which is crucial in conceptualising and executing a collection successfully,” she says.

A thorough attention to detail and strong research and development shone through her collection titled ‘Urban Utopia’. This line was an exquisite narrative that blended the reality of rapid urbanization with the need of natural nuances. This reflected in the brand signature ‘love buttons’, which are articulate needlepoint hand embroidered patterns of flora and fauna. These are set on structured and rigid silhouettes, in sync with the designer’s exploration of opposites.

A crucial extension of the same design philosophy was the manipulation of textiles. “The idea of taking a fabric (denim) that is typically used for its rigid form, and creating a languid and rhythmic garment with it was exciting as well. It required a lot of quality checks, and presented many challenges but the result was gratifying,” she says.

The beauty however, lies in Diksha’s modesty when she admits that every collection that is glamorized on the runway is only an evolution of a very simple thought. “The inspiration behind every collection comes from a personal place. Whether it is an excerpt from a book, or a random detail from the street of a city I recently travelled to,” she says.

It therefore comes as no surprise, that after her recent trip to Oman, Diksha’s upcoming collection romanticizes the souks and spices sprawled across the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.

Inspired by Oman, this collection titled ‘Hadith – A Desert Storm’, is an amalgamation of ancient art form and modern aesthetics. Diksha’s Autumn Winter 2019 womens wear line brings to the runwaythe magic of the East in the form of explorative surface textures, embroideries and decorative elements. Ranging from athleisure to eveningwear, the collection witnesses the reinterpretation of traditional costume to fit the modern lifestyle.

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Evoking a sense of duality is the Zari Khadi Denim fabric. With virginal cotton lying in the warp and metallic zari in the weft, the weavers bring to being a fabric that breathes life into the collection. “The fabric is an experimentation of zari inserts in a handloom khadi denim. The real heroes are the weavers who put in hundreds of hours to create what is essentially, a piece of art,” she says. A fabric like this is further juxtaposed with an unusual choice of denim patchwork, joined at its seams using the technique of crochet. Motifs are picked up directly from the aromatic spice markets of Oman, and intricately cross-stitched onto the garment.

Layered one on top of the other, are separates from this collection that come together to mimic the experience of the bustling bazaars. From motifs of garlic, star anise and dried spices, to a colour palette that encapsulates the mystical dessert, the collection, ‘Hadith- A Desert Storm’ embodies the multisensory experience of the East.

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This line, like all of Diksha’s works, finds a balance in opposites. Deep violet denim, with metallic golden coins that dangle off of it, cotton and metallic fibres woven together, denims and knits, athleisure and evening wear are a few of the contrasting elements in this collection. By blending together these contradictory elements, the designer looks at creating a collection that is meant for a strong and confident wearer, who embraces individuality. In this way, Diksha creates what is a representation of not only the independent spirit of the Arab woman, but of women around the world.

 

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