Gender bender is the name of the game, as grand finale designer Rajesh Pratap flirts with stainless steel, continues his romance with khadi and pleating without abandoning his reverence for Japanese tying techniques, embracing volume.
By Asmita Aggarwal
What makes Rajesh Pratap Singh, a perfect choice for a grand finale- is it his attention to detail, being notoriously shy, ability to get a house full minus any Bollywood star, foot tapping retro music or his innate desire to approach fashion minus the rose-tinted glasses?
It could be a combination of all of the above—even though he took on the task of reviving, a label that began as a master of prints and somewhere down the lane lost its way-Satya Paul. Started in 1985, when printed saris were a norm, capturing a huge market share SP was a trend-setter. That same lady, who was a customer then is now in her late 50s, how will you serenade her, her children or grandkids is the question that he faced, when he accepted the legendary reins. The template was same, only the energy was altered, a youthful vibe added sometimes with a political or socio-economic and cultural tone mirroring the world around us.
“I observed how GenZ has a different point of view, than we came and also the generation before us there is a huge difference in thought processes. What we are making and how is it being produced is of brevity. I can feel the change, how the pace is now accelerated, there was a desire to look at various contributory nuances with fresh eyes,” says Pratap in an exclusive interview. He is a believer, that any brand must have its core values intact, irrespective of market changes, it should give you a feeling of being centred, “change is bound to happen”, but purpose is elementary. “We are in a massive churn, if you see what the world faced in these last three years,” he explains. Material explorations became exceedingly important, Pratap weaves his own fabrics, thus the use of stainless steel, his ‘emotional’ connection with khadi, out of which he also crafted footwear earlier, to using new techniques in traditional Weaves.
“My clothes are simple,” is his only answer if you ask him about the LFWxFDCI collection, showcased in Mumbai, though his khadi has a new coating, his experiments with pleats continue, as they were dexterously placed on school girl skirts, anti-fit is undeniably his favourite, but it is closely jostling for space with volume, that adds edginess into his ensembles.
Opera style background score with the Jersey actress Mrunal Thakur as his muse, seen sporting gender fluid garments on the red carpet, seemed to create a stage for Pratap at the fashion week, to do what he does best—bringing back Japanese style austerity. Tying techniques, big shoulders, monochromes, voluminous dresses and turning the tables with cropped double-breasted jackets for men he made us pine for more. Silver and gold played hide and seek in his largely androgynous offerings. Though the show stopper was certainly the monochrome pre-pleated and draped sari, paired with a white men’s formal shirt. And never once he forgot to pay tribute to pin tucking and azure blues to bring a calming confluence in a space that is desperately searching for peace.