October 18, 2022 FDCI

Hidden Pearls

From Ajrah, to ungendering and changing shapes using the drawstring technique, Pearl Academy students tell us easy is the new cool at the FDCIxLFW showcase

By Asmita Aggarwal

When Radhika Kunwal saw sizes compartmentalized at a popular fast fashion store, she knew women should not be discriminated against on the basis of their body weight, and looked at fashion through the prism of making their lives easier in a fast-paced world that has been forced to prioritize comfort. Thus, came the idea of the drawstring and how easily you could manipulate it into shapes, offering the wearing ease as well as style. Radhika Kunwal is one of the many students from Pearl Academy’s graduating batch of 2022, who showcased their collection on Sunday, at the FDCIX LFW fashion week.

Radhika’s ignition point was a piece of cloth, and she preferred to use khadi, the result was myriad silhouettes that each piece could be converted into—you can wear the kaftan as a dress; the dhoti metamorphosizes into a palazzo, plus you can increase or shorten the height too with the pull of a string. The fabric has been kept natural, sans any chemical treatment, and any body type can adapt it as per the occasion. “My graduation project’s concept is ‘APOC’ a.k.a a piece of cloth, derived from the Indian drapes of saree, dhoti etc. A saree or dhoti is essentially 6 meters and 3.5 meters of rectangular unstitched cloth respectively, wrapped, tucked and pleated around the body. The collection is an avant-garde take on Indian drapes, so I wanted to use the same length of traditional drapes and create pieces that work for a younger, contemporary audience,” she says.

“I engineered casings to gather and rouch fabric at strategic places to offer transformation thus offering a new shape/form each time. The openings for the neck and limbs have been developed keeping in mind the multi-way wearing capability. The textiles are an ode to the Indian handloom weavers, I sourced khadi in various yarn counts and weaves. The slips for diaphanous and fine calico silhouettes have been developed using zero-waste pattern cutting. The concept of drawstrings was reimagined as tie cords and either ends of the cords have toggles to control the tying of the material,” she adds.

Her classmate Harshika Chopra decided to evoke “Rasa”, emotions, how you can engineer, she worked with Ajrak on the base fabric cotton, as it is the staple crop in India. Draping is the mainstay and madder red as well as indigo dyeing made each piece distinctive. While Devanshu has elevated the theme of “ungendering” playing with printed nylon taffeta using puffer fabric and creating indigenous lungis. The most engaging part of the showcase was seeing young minds perceive the world around them and conceptualising using the power of detailed observation—whether it is human behaviour or how we need to make dressing simpler.

The graduate fashion week usually takes place in London, for fashion schools, but this year it is happening here, and many other from Italy to China and UK will be participating. Interestingly, Pearl Academy has played with the concept of “eyes”, with a vintage 20s photobooth, popularly known as ‘Photomatan’, titled “All eyes on me”. Mirrors you see in amusement parks where images are often distorted, reflects a space where you can absorb how images change or maybe it shows us how the world has changed post-pandemic, and we see ourselves differently each day —the theme is open to individual interpretation.


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