August 28, 2021 Asmita Aggarwal

Metallica

Their love for colour blends well with their appliqué as metallics become a powerful tool to display elegance for Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna’s first ICW line

By Asmita Aggarwal

It is an exciting time for Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna — they are showing their first ever couture collection at the ICW 2021. They are undoubtedly the masters of prêt, a market they have been leaders of, but the lockdown presented them a unique opportunity. It came at a time when artisans needed work and with many international orders cancelled, it was imperative to keep them from leaving for their villages. “So we decided to do heavily embroidered jackets and started thinking about foraying into couture,” says Rahul Khanna.

They began structuring their line six months ago and worked on what they knew best—cutwork and appliqué, consolidating what they had, by opting for a more compact factory. Opening two months ago they showcased in Hong Kong and London, working with clients online, or zoom calls, a luxury they never enjoyed selling prêt which was mostly impersonal through stores or malls.

Rahul admits this is the right time to do couture, as the wedding market is changing, people desire bespoke and their couture week line brings together surface ornamentation and texturing — their forte. The beauty of the collection is the Indian techniques they have effortlessly translated onto Western silhouettes, making their tuxedos and bridal gowns both ingenious and interesting. “Indians settled abroad still want a kind of mix, neither overtly Indian nor too Westernised, the look we offer,” says Rahul.

Digitalisation has made the world their audience, it is no longer limited to just the domestic market, so each ensemble can be turned up or down based on the occasion, making it multipurpose. A cocktail gown, if you remove the can can, works well for a friend’s wedding, but if you add a cape it crosses over to become your wedding outfit. The lehengas come with in-built corsets, and here is the most innovative part —- the duo has used stretch so a medium size can fit a large and a small a medium size, as everyone’s weight fluctuates, this makes sure you are using the outfit for a long time.

The other advantage is that the layers in the gown, almost three can be removed if you want subtle sophistication and if you need the drama, wear them all to give you extraordinary flare. But the innovation is not restricted to just womenswear, men too can opt for tuxedos with draped kurtas for a sufi night and on a formal night out you can wear tuxedos with bows.

Being in the business for almost 24 years since they started in 1997, the duo has done prêt meticulously just like their first couture outing, where jewel tones take over the spectrum, along with mosaic blues and bottle greens. “We love combining our metallics with colours and we don’t follow trends but go with our instincts of being in the market for so many years and understanding what will work for a discerning customer,” he adds.

India is a country of festivals and celebrations even though last two years has been subdued, but shooting the film an hour away from the capital at a boutique hotel, complete with a resort feel with the backdrop of an abstract, minimal feel which went with their look of the entire line, created a definitive synergy. “The market is big, there is space for everyone to grow and find their niche, and ‘Alchemize’, our ICW showcasing will only widen our horizons,” he concludes.

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