July 31, 2023 FDCI

Artist at Work

No artificial intelligence here, just plain, old techniques that still capture the essence of luxury, controlling materials which have a mind of their own is Rimzim Dadu’s specialty.

By Asmita Aggarwal

Is couture today carefree elegance or the freedom of creativity? Or is it reshaping thought processes, maybe a tool of self-expression, but it is undoubtedly a feeling, linked to a more conceptual and intellectual pursuit. Question is — can creative and commercial visions align?

 Rimzim Dadu, who is known for technologically advanced clothing with an edgy appeal, believes so, and this too without compromising on the fabric’s identity. After all you must credit her with the success of making steel a part of most fashionable women’s evening out dressing. Completing 15 years, with her leather Patola displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the engineered textiles have found favour in a largely trend-driven fashion space.

Whether it is “Art in Motion’, reassembling, cording or her most favourite texturing, Dadu for the first time is dabbling in couture, even though her processes have always been serenading in slow fashion. Working with car companies, or Digital Jalebi, Pratap Bose, Harshvardhan Kadam, she admits the goal has been singular—pushing boundaries of the set template flourishing in the style world and its inhabitants. Along with materials, learning to handle different minds as well as combining art, fashion, and technology in one sweep, like she did as a painter, used Google tilt brush and showcased her innovative ensembles back in 2018, each presentation has been an effort at new-ness.

Fashion, she believes, is an expression of who a bride intrinsically is—and it is no longer about 20 kg lehengas dripping with crystals termed as exquisite. “Couture is a personality, brides want to make a statement, even though I don’t do traditional bridal, it is the craftsmanship employed that is the highlight,” says Dadu.

Mastering the art of combining structure with movement, the steel sari is not stiff, she managed to offer fluidity, a kind of deception, more like an armour, she admits. “Using materials you could never imagine will have a sense of flow that’s where the magic happens,” she adds.

Couture week is a premier platform to present her work, confesses Dadu, for her it is an “experiment of sorts”, a more modern take with cool juxtapositions. “The biggest task will be the techniques I developed to refine them, in some ways reimagine bridal, like we did with the Patola, the context remained stable and treatment was innovative,” she adds. Materials which do not listen, she woos them into malleability and fits them in structures.

“Functionality is of utmost importance, the weight, packaging so that you can travel easily with the garments during destination weddings,” she explains. Sustainability is more of multiple use, worn in various ways, like traditional saris handed down becoming heirlooms. It is not restricted to just recycled/upcycled materials. “It is the longevity that counts, I achieved this feat with my invention of the steel sari in 2016. It is still being worn and has not been a fad relegating it to the ‘outdated’ status,” she says.

Everyone has favourites and some admit it, so gold is Dadu’s go-to hue, she ‘can’t go wrong with it’, along with versatility. In some ways by showing at ICW 2023 this year, she also wants to alter the pricing of couture, to make it accessible, even though it is in the luxury bracket.

This season is about mesh, Indian textiles, and lace, they embody the spirit of being a leader and not a follower, a bit like what Schiaparelli did this season. Daniel Roseberry and his “surrealist interpretation of a woman’s essential closet”, with painter Lucian Fred and sculptor Jack Whitten as well as Yves Klein, Matisse —the ‘artists at work’ were an ode to the world of creation. “Social media has changed the landscape of fashion, more access to an audience that comes with a certain directness, enhancing aspirational value. Hugely democratic and this is the key word,” she concludes.

Her dexterous dhotis in the backdrop of rainfall, waves falling in moving lehengas which had mini bags for company at her DLF Emporio, ICW 2023 show. Everything was wavy and bright with aubergines and ash greys as well as buns lit up to tell us glow can be anywhere. Fabric manipulations were strong and the ath-leisure touches discreet. Sea blues as well as her favourite purples and little pixelated flower on full skirts, were endearing.

She made even gold look less golden in her short jackets and coordinated skirts, constructed saris with a mix of gold and silver, as a sea of basket weave making a strong splash.  The beauty is despite the stiffness of materials, there are no bulges or protrusions in the gowns, the fabric listens to Rimzim and she understands construction.  The deftly done cutwork flowers on the lehengas, with subtle veils, will certainly find a place in a modern bride’s trousseau, someone who does not want the predictable gotta and zardozi, but is willing to make a leap of faith.

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