It is toss up who loves Rahul Mishra more —the French or the Italians, as the designer courts both with ease! But the Tree Of Life, his latest ode to modernity teaches us that spirituality and nature can be our only saviours in a distressed world, and of course, gold is his new muse.
By Asmita Aggarwal
The cutwork and embroidery were so intricate, you could actually feel as if a golden tree complete with leaves was being carried on nimble shoulders, at the French Embassy on a beautiful clear day, when Rahul Mishra riding high on the success of the Paris Couture Week, showcased his ICW 2022 line for a fashion-obsessed Delhi audience.
Is the Indian market important for him, when you have almost opened all the locked doors internationally, winning an audience which fawns over every petal you craft or every pant-suit you offer? Maybe it is a “yes” for Rahul, who may have been born in a humble town in Kanpur, but he understands both the intricacies of embroideries and business, like no one else.
He is a fabulous combination of creative ability and astute commercial prowess, with help from his much, better half Divya. But what was surprising was that a boy who would often recall how he never had even a roof in his village school, would fall so madly, deeply in love with gold.
There was gold everywhere, it seemed like a gold rush—leaves, circles, flowers, mountains, trees everything was immersed in this shine. What’s more, he even went a step further and offered us sequinned pants, for men and women which he teamed up with straight kurtas emblazoned with 3 D bold flowers, in the brightest hues of burning orange and flushing pink.
If we know anything about Indians is that they love gold, hoard gold and flash gold during wedding celebrations, so each ensemble that Mishra offered could be sobered down and worn as a separate. The global Indian wants to wear pieces that look international as travel has become a huge part of their lives. The NID graduate, knows the subtleties of the market and his letter “From the Atelier” to the Press, was a peak into his thought process, in a world where digital footprints have wrecked the boat, he chose the traditional method of communication.
It is these thoughtful touches that make him unique, and it is his power of observation (watching him grandmom tie a sacred thread around the banyan tree or lighting a diya under the peepal tree) that reflects in his line replete with communicative surface ornamentation. The French connection, it seems has worked in Rahul Mishra’s favour, as he sometimes crosses over to Italy without getting entangled in the design war that both nations have silently engaged in. This season it was a celebration of the “Tree of life”, an age-old metaphor of how human beings have the power to survive, resuscitate and reinvent themselves, always praying to Mother Nature where they find solace.
It is this innate spirituality and belief system that has kept us all alive as we battled internal and external crises for the last two years. As the French ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain, rightly said, “India is a land of craftsmanship and even Lesage, our most coveted embroiderer gets his pieces done in Chennai, Indians are known for their heritage and hand work.”
Glittering cutout leaves falling all over the leggings, black against a gold background made a mesmerising impact, and so did gowns with trails, sheer shararas with short kurtis were modernised for a global audience with his fine attention to detail. Sequinned pants in charcoal blacks, flaming red pant suits, it was a floral bouquet with threadwork.
Small touches made a big difference in the otherwise simpler pieces like jackets or dresses with exaggerated sleeves or his dreamy pastels and ivories as the embroidered mountains, waterfalls, birds and flowers could be seen on his tunics.
His sheer bodysuits are certainly for a Western audience, but his pale blue lehengas will work for an Indian cocktail. As a designer, he has managed to walk the tightrope without tipping over!