March 14, 2023 FDCI

Despair to Hope

The Pearl Academy talented final year students of fashion design, show us how silhouettes can display human emotions, the crisis civilisation faces with wars to earthquakes, through hand made garments which exude confidence, and reveal skilled processes.

By Asmita Aggarwal

When the curator of the FDCIXPearl Academy show Megha Khanna began her journey for a muse what affected everyone in the premier design institute, along with the head of Fashion Design Prasanna Baruah and Dean Antonio Maurizio Grioli, were the recent disasters and their succinct effect on human psychology. This became the moodboard for the presentation—earthquakes in Turkey, Pandemic, Syrian war, Ukraine humanitarian crisis and the despondency and despair that had engulfed our existence. From this emerged three themes— “destruction”, “rescue” and “transformation”, which were explored through, design, material and aesthetics.

“Destruction” was showcased through objects of memory that you observe in real life refugee camps—closh with photographs of children displaced, military dogtags to vintage photo albums. These were sourced from antique stores in Chor Bazaar, Mumbai and Amar Colony, Delhi. The theme of rescue had pillows to pet cages, things that provide comfort in trying situations, and the last one hope, depicts a refugee child dragging a colourful toy.

The presentation also included a seamstress with a sowing machine on the ramp, to complete the metamorphosis and showcase the journey from sadness to brightness. The 35 fashion design students displayed 33 pieces, the beauty of the show was also in the 1960s passport that was sourced from a vintage market of a Parsi lady that had been cancelled, an aged lantern to beds and chairs each depicting an emotional story. It was a heady amalgamation of design, performance, and costume, Megha confirms.

And not to forget the press kits– 200 pieces of metal and Plaster of Paris to show remains of homes with a red heart on it explaining the shows concept of “Heart to Earth”. The performance pamphlet showcased the students process of using Midjourney (the AI search engine) and we paid homage to designers we lost in the last year by printing AI generated images of them on bags. The ability to bring the old with the new and the whole process from garments to hair and makeup to styling to the choreography, the graphics and the press kits all these processes and details came together to make it a holistic experience.

Aditya Arora, a final year student of Pearl Academy, worked on the concept “Chaos of Core”, it talks about the integration of the human nervous system. The inspiration draws a parallel connection between clothing and the human body, where all the components of the body follow the same function as components of garments. For example, ribcage has been converted to a jacket, which will protect the body just like the rib cage protects the inner organs. The outcome is a combination of diverse materials like textured felt sheets, air dried clay to depict bones and tie-dyed nylon taffeta to show the organic and intricate nervous system. “There is no stitching in the garment, it is fully hand made,” says Aditya.

“During my time alone during the lockdown, I came upon a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. talking about the Three Evils of Society that really remained with me. It urged me to consider my views on society, politics, differences, and the hierarchy that exists within it. The speech addresses looking within ourselves— Materialism, Racism, Militarism. These three combined, form the bane of our civilisation, which even after more than 50 years it is relevant to the current scenario,” says Muskan Sehgal, a final year fashion design student, who showcased her collection.

In countries with diverse cultural or ethnic groups along with economic, political, and social inequality, wars are more likely to occur, causing a vicious cycle that leads to poverty. Religion itself prevents us from understanding our civilization’s origins and core values because of its blind devotion, her research concluded.

“Taking this inspiration forward I wanted to communicate the commonalities we hold as people, share same values and ideologies despite them being in different languages and mediums. Just like the trinity of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva in Hinduism as creation-preservation and destruction, similar ideologies of existence in various cultures across the globe point towards the power of a triangle as an energy source. Its application in our life despite them being in different verbiage and mediums, point towards the common elements of our roots of existence,” she adds.

“Sacred Trinity” talks about the three core principles of our three-dimensional existence as a civilization i.e Time, Space and Consciousness. The silhouette and construction of three iconic garments from India, China, and Japan — the Jama, Hanfu ensemble, Kimono are culturally diverse yet integrated. The play with different materials and amalgamating textiles of diverse qualities like varying weights, transparencies and textures communicate the symphony of cultures. “I covered the faces of models, I wanted the focus to be on the garments, in a monochromatic palette, using sheer organza, playing with asymmetry and creating shrugs to bodysuits,” she concludes.


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Fashion Design Council of India