We haven’t really got a chance to update our closet in the past year, considering the pandemic. Now’s the chance to fill it up with cool loungewear, bridal couture, celebratory and quirky party wear numbers that were part of the FDCI X LFW’s fashion extravaganza

Compiled by Samreen Khoja

Combining forces of the powerhouses of fashion and beauty in India, Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) and Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW) presented a joint fashion week 15 years since their last collaborative venture. The event that ran through a mix of physical and digital (phygital) events saw designers putting their best foot forward.

While the digital showcases have helped keep designer businesses in public view, nothing beats the on-ground experience. However, certain things have now become part of how the industry connects with buyers and how consumers take in information and content. We bring to you the best from the five days of fashion. 

Grand Opening

Anamika Khanna opened the five-day phygital showcase with a spectacular show. Anamika’s collection aptly called “Timeless The World” was inspired by the many quick changing feelings and emotions that one goes through. From casual comfort wear to fashion luxury, Anamika kept nostalgia as well as tradition in mind as she paid homage to Indian heritage. It was also a creative merger of art and textiles as Anamika brought her versions of the fabrics that will create a trend during the coming season.

“The past year has been a challenging one to say the least, and I am glad to have the opportunity to use this platform to showcase my work, and the incredible artists I work with. My collection is a collaboration of art and textile and will be homage to the fact that what is created will one day perish. What is left behind is legacy, and what matters most is what you do with it,” she said.

The collection weaves a fictional narrative where a 24-year-old finds a treasure trove of textiles in a trunk in an attic and dreams up a collection that is modern, yet recognizes the timelessness of the Indian heritage. With the hand painted visuals of artists Deepak Kumar Saw, Smriti Lekha Gogoi and Amlan Dutta who added their floral and abstract touches; the collection was a feast for the eyes as one-shouldered tunics and cropped blouses were seen with asymmetrical skirts. Men’s wear was striking with embroidery that was used lavishly for robes and Sherwanis, which were at times teamed with cropped pants or fluid pyjamas, while cummerbunds and scarves added that touch of grandeur to the look.

Precise & palate-cleansing prêt

Showing artistic flare, designers on Day 1 of FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week explored the idea of safari luxe and dabbled in delectable confectionary chic. FDCI’s Emerging Talent - Bloni by Akshat Bansal was the highlight. Championing the concept of gender-fluid fashion, Bloni by Akshat Bansal blended the traditional technique of tie-dye with a mix of globally sourced fabrics. This season they experimented with marine plastic waste textile, giving it a new lease of life.

Blending tech-generated fabrics with local artisanal techniques and the craft of tie and dye, along with crochet and knitting, Bloni is able to create fashion that is self-accepting and self-informed. “This collection marks the third year of us making clothes that are not conformed to any particular gender. It’s self-accepting, it’s self-informed. Enhancing transparency and creating a unique hybrid culture is what the brand thrives on. Bloni as a brand talks about looking back to where we started, introspecting our presence, reviving what we left behind is the essence of the brand,” says Akshat Bansal. 

This year, FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week launched two talented GenNext designers Rahul Dasgupta and Wajahat Rather. Dasgupta’s opening line stemmed out of his quiet observations during the quarantine. Influenced by the waves of the sea, the frayed detailing, intense ribbing effect on the garments and the rippling of fabrics on the kurtas, gave a refreshing upgrade to menswear. Inspired by his hometown of Kashmir, Wajahat unveiled a line of contemporary Pheran, the traditional silhouette of the region, fused with the craft of block print.

In collaboration with Logitech, Arpita Mehta showcased her collection against the natural backdrop of the summer sea. Titled ‘Reflections’, the collection featured four distinct prints—floral classics catering to versatile women, abstract prints for the bold and strong women, leaf prints for the playful boho women, and lastly, the butti prints for understated women. Fun, light and breezy the capes, kaftans, relaxed, oversized pants and bralettes, were punctuated with her classic draped sari and dainty blouses.
Geisha’s presentation was all about amplified drama and elegance. Pantsuits, floral ballgowns, draped saris with frills in a romantic victorian palette comprised their latest offering. Whereas Pankaj and Nidhi’s geometrically crafted collection Kaliedo was presented in an array of rainbow hues. The silhouettes included well-constructed mini dresses and tailored co-ord sets.

Since most of us have spent our last year in our apartments sans the jeans and in our comfy tracksuits, S&N by Shantanu and Nikhil’s line, titled #SNSafari was a much needed visual treat inspiring one to dress up and head to a luxury resort. From asymmetric kurtas and cropped jacket shirts to open-cut sherwanis and structured shirts with Nehruvian details, the label offered a unique sartorial choice.

Vegan Fashion

Day 2 dubbed as the ‘Sustainability Day’ of the FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week highlighted the brands and designers who work towards building an ethical collection for a better, more eco-friendly world. To kick things off, six designers’, featured in R|Elan ‘Fashion for Earth’ showcased collections of outfits made from recyclable materials including PET bottles, waste denim and upcycled textiles. LataSita, Tote Scarf, Nece Gene, Paiwand, Grandma Would Approve and Bandit set the stage on fire with their creations.
The new PETA India vegan fashion look book featured Milind Soman and wife Ankita Konwar. The couple demonstrated how to look fashionably ‘killer’ sans any animal cruelty. Recognised globally for offering luxury signature, peace organic silk garments, The Cocccon label made a splash with colour and artistic pattern. Made from biodegradable materials, Cocccon’s creations have a zero negative impact on the planet while also enabling silk farmers, weavers and spinners to work from their areas. As part of All About India, labels Chola, Huemn and Khanijo showcased their collection using sustainable materials. From neutral hues to tribal prints, the collection had it all.

Payal Pratap’s new collection ‘View With A Room’ explored myriad emotions and the feeling of nostalgia, reflecting a sense of limitless freedom, an almost whimsical compilation of design, fantasy, and stepping out of one’s comfort zone. It boasts of a rich colour palette comprising of shades of plum, deep purple, midnight navy, fuschia, ruby, petrol and coffee, auburn autumn and ochre. Maxi, wrap and saree dresses—packed with peplum sleeves, smocking, and details hand-woven over vibrant floral prints, different embroidery techniques, and print-on-print layering—made an appearance in the collection. Designer Ritu Kumar launched her Spring Summer 2021 collection consisting of environmentally-friendly, organic, soya fabric sarees. The collection reflected modern minimalism with a boho chic vibe.

Celestial Collection 

From Masaba Gupta’s drive through show to Gauri and Nanika’s dreamy floral collection, Day 3 was an absolute treat.  Nidhi Yasha’s collection, ‘The Gypsy Wife’, drew its inspiration from Leonard Cohen’s song of the same name. The collection celebrated the visceral, sensual, hedonistic spirit of a gipsy woman through quintessential folkloric language. From flirty ruffles, fringes and rich tassels over sheer layers, and dramatic volumes—the collection was a perfect medley of florals and geometrics giving major boho vibes. Sustainability was at its best, as PELLA showed a collection of zero waste clothing.

Gauri & Nainika’s latest collection, ‘An ode to our mother’s garden’, reminded us of a Parisian summer. The collection explored an abundance of floral prints, and showcases exploding flora in the hues of the earth and the sky as well hues of cerulean blue, grey and green.

The ‘Queen of Prints’, Masaba Gupta left an imprint on our minds with her fabulous collection. Driven by comfort, inspired by luxury, resort ’21 collection is for the versatile escapist, and included silhouettes like kaftans, easy breezy shirts, cover-ups, and fusion separates. Larger than life ruffles and floral embroideries stole the show at Suneet Varma’s collection. The show was definitely a display of maximalism in all its glory with colours and excessive embellishments setting the whole mood for the night.

All that Jazz

Day 4 of the FDCI X LFW was a string of creatively challenging presentations. We were welcomed to Nirmooha’s print party as the collection took visual cues from this grilled bird-in-a-cage reality of the pandemic, and took a trip down the wild 1970s to create a capsule of separates.  The collection from Limerick by Abirr n" Nanki was playful, authentic, and reflective of our times. The trans-seasonal line that emphasised resort wear was inspired by the 400-year-old art form of Pichwai. The art form was juxtaposed against mixed crepes and organzas. The designs were a unison of both, traditional prints and contemporary design.

For his avant-garde collection, designer Nitin Bal Chauhan reflected on the dark side of social media. The collection, ‘Faux-Amis’, explored the tremendous shift that the human race has gone through. To create organic silhouettes, Nitin experimented with 3D geometric hand embroidery to create pixels. The minimal colour palette contrasting with the high sheen fabrics and textures added a new-age flavour to the garments.

Siddartha Tytler’s collection was an ode to the bold and uncensored nightlife of New York’s iconic Studio 54 club. Reflecting the roaring 80s fun, the collection was fun and flirty. From corsets to bodycon dress, to peasant tops, co-ord sets and bomber jackets, the collection transported us to a bygone retro era.

Fun, spunk and bohemian-chic ethos were on display at Payal Singhal’s collection. The eponymous label revisited its signature aesthetic of contemporary and minimalist design, suffused with new panache. Think classic pocketed lehengas, but now with a matching sports bra and bomber jacket. Sorbet hues, quirky accessories and playful elements like neon tassels bow-detailed tote bags were the additional ingredients that added the extra layer of oomph.

Couturier Manish Malhotra pulled all the stops for his brand new collection Nooraniyant. For all the brides who would like to make an entrance, this collection hit a sweet spot. From ball gowns, to lehangas and intricate work sherwanis, the collection was a festive extravaganza. Actors Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani turned showstoppers in ethnic ensembles.

Bollywood High

Bollywood personalities like Ananya Panday, Dia Mirza, Divya Khosla Kumar, Pooja Hegde, Hina Khan, Aahana Kumra, Lara Dutta, among others turned showstoppers and dazzled on the final day of FDCI X LFW phygital showcase.

Exhibiting a rich colour palette that runs from greys, powder blues, teals to fawns, reds and oranges, Pawan Sachdeva, presented ‘Neoteric’, a collection that showcased versatile, comfortable and fashionable clothing. Taneira Sarees made a debut with ‘The Fusion Edit’ which was a homage to nature’s circular passage. Every facet of the design was made with the intent to be utilised and disbursed conscientiously before it eventually returns to nature.

6 Degree unveiled a grand presentation by five diverse designer labels. With white as the primary base, Sanjukta Dutta’s collection ‘Shukoolaa’, a range of gorgeous saris, swirling lehengas, floor kissing skirts, an assortment of cropped blouses and regal gowns were part of the collection. Stopping the show was the very regal Lara Dutta in a white/gold Mekhela Chador worn with a demure white long-sleeved backless choli. Gazal Mishra’s collection called “Uzbek Vintage” unveiled a colourful and graceful story of flora, inspired by the Uzbekistan luxurious foliage. Making a show stopping entry Bollywood star Aahana Kumra glided in a full-flared, tiered, long kurta. The devil was in the details for The Shaveta and Anuj label by Shaveta Choudhary and Anuj Choudhary. Tatwamm by Abhishek and Vinita created magic with their majestic collection of splendid weaves. Hina Khan was the perfect showstopper as she created an impact and sashayed in, wearing the stunning silk, velvet lehenga.

Bodice by Ruchika Sachdeva presented the finale. Stepping into the label’s 10th-year, the designer presented her newest collection, ‘Ready Set Play’, that brought the label’s ethos to life. The designs were detail-centric and minimal in approach. The collection was designed to be a marriage between our rich heritage, and the contemporary metamorphosis that we’re going through. Ananya Pandey turned showstoper for this collection and ended the phygital edition on a high!