Five exciting designers at Delhi's Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week experiment with vivid colours and bold new looks
PIA PAURO, 36
This London-educated Delhi designer’s eponymous label is unabashedly resort. Her Spring Summer 2013 too has bikinis, one-pieces, kurtis, slinky cover-ups, and kaftans. Pia’s first foray into Wills (she debuted at Mumbai’s Lakmé Fashion Week in March this year) is fun, flirty, and insouciant. Entitled “Isola Pia” (Italian for “Pia’s island’), the Spring Summer 2013 collection is a play of acid oranges, yellows, pinks, and greens, with a medley of geometric designs inspired by island tribes (akin to colourful Aztec prints, the current favourite of runways round the world). The very first outfit in green and brown prints is a nod to the coconut tree. “I’m passionate about colour and embroidery; I do my research,” says Pauro. She displays her latest threadwork from Sindh, done on a beaded bolero, which she’s wearing the day of the show. From day to evening, to party, there’s lots of room for innovation in resortwear and Pauro’s fabrics span the spectrum. Pauro also does accessories from feather-trimmed heels to raffia beach bags. “I sell the accessories with the outfit to make one look,” she says. Her first store is due to open in Delhi’s Meherchand Market. Pauro’s next stop is the New York Fashion Week in June 2013.
Where to buy: Sells in Brazil, New York and Los Angeles; Ogaan, Aza, and Creo in India
Prices: Rs 5,000-Rs 12,000
ABHI SINGH, 32
The soft-spoken Singh is the less flamboyant half of former design duo abhirahul. A NIFT Delhi graduate, Singh honed his métier under Puneet Nanda at Satya Paul in the early 2000s, and it shows. Once more than happy doing Indianwear and bridalwear, Singh felt something was amiss and needed his own “creativity to be unleashed”. Thus started his prêt line, which he showcased at Mumbai’s Lakmé Fashion Week last year. This, his second prêt line, is inspired, by North American “monolithic skyscrapers”, with their geometry and drama. The stark architectural lines, albeit with splashes of fuchsia, canary yellow, and sapphire blue, are evident in A-line dresses, kimono-style jumpsuits, empire-waist dresses, strappy shifts, even a skirt inspired by the scalloped roof of the Chrysler building. Inhouse accessories — metal fascinators, pyramid earrings and tasselled bags — abound. An outstanding feature is the use of Indian tie-and-dyed woven yarn as long fringes (that swing when in motion), and draped and sewn in patterns on top of the outfit, a process Abhi’s design interns took a month-and-a-half month to do on each garment. “Three buyers from West Asia have placed huge orders and my team is in shock. How will we mass-produce them?” he laughs.
Where to buy: Aza, Ensemble, and Evoluzione. He also sells in New Zealand and Canada
Prices: Between Rs 7,000 and Rs 17,000
PRERNA BHARADWAJ, 29
Kolkata-born Bharadwaj studied at NIFT Kolkata, and moved to Delhi where she worked with maverick couturier Gaurav Gupta, and later, as head designer for JJ Valaya. She is clear about her fashion influence — the late Briton Alexander McQueen. “He was the god of fashion,” she says. Her Spring Summer 2013 collection is based on an esoteric idea: “It’s about one’s thought process, where nothing is structured or concrete, where the beginning is random, and only later takes shape to turn into a work of beauty.” At first glance, this evolution is not completely apparent, where the first two flowy gowns in jet black jersey give way to purple, blue, and red halter-neck asymmetrical dresses, drop shorts, layered ombre skirts (a trend also spotted with Nachiket Barve, Jenjum Gadi, and quezen of resort Ranna Gill), and multi-tiered net dresses, and even a floor-length flouncy gota skirt with net overlay. The interest factor comes from a spray of fabric-covered buttons, that adds texture and literally and figuratively holds each piece together. The silhouette is wearable, with a touch of whimsy. “My ideal woman doesn’t care about what people say; she does what she wants,” says Bharadwaj. She plans to introduce her first menswear line next season.
Where to buy: Kimaya, her own store Kosh in Shahpur Jat in New Delhi
Prices: Rs 9,000-Rs 15,000
PREETI JHAWAR, 30
Kolkata-born, NIFT Delhi-trained Jhawar has had her own label for 10 years. Now based out of Mumbai, this is her first Wills show. “Having my own show, it’s a livewire,” says Jhawar. “You’re creating a story in five minutes!” Her Spring Summer 2013 collection is colourful and flouncy. “It’s got touches of Victorian and yet is Bohemian and carefree.” Jhawar loves American design icon Anna Sui, famous for mixing vintage with rock, and this amalgamation of opposites is her cachet. Textures such as woven Banarasi silk edging, appliqué flowers, 3D embroidery — all produced by 400-odd karigars in Kolkata and sampled by around 250 workers in Mumbai — vie for attention in sorbet-hued outfits that are long and fluid. Think kaftans and multi-tiered dresses in net, organdy, chiffon, and the occasional churidar. There are touches of grandeur: silver embellishments, technicolour digital prints and bolero jackets creating a rich if at times disparate look, yet there is a lightness to the silhouette. “I’d love to dress a Britney Spears or Madonna, women who constantly change their style, yet remain true to their sensibilities.” Next for Preeti is a line of accessories, shoes, bags, and clutches.
Where to buy: Aza and Kimaya in Delhi, Collage in Bangalore, Rudraksh in Pune, Mogra in Mumbai. She stocks with exclusively.in, a US-based shopping portal
Prices: Beginning at Rs 10,500
One of the youngest entrants at Wills this season, Khushi Shah has, in a short span of two years, gone from being a student in London and Georgia, USA, to a full-fledged designer with her very first ramp show. Vadodara-born Shah “wanted to be a designer” since childhood. Another McQueen fan, she attributes to him her love of colour, and this, combined with draping, is her biggest strength. Her first-ever collection, under the KhushiZ label entitled “Ocean’s Evil Eye”, is a digi-print extravaganza in swirling oceanic tones and ombre effects, done completely in chiffon. The gowns are draped, and sometimes cut on a bias to give them extra flair. Corsets with pleating, feathers, pearls, and Swarovski embellishments abound. The shapes are pretty, and summery, with harem pants, choli backs, empire-waist drawstring dresses, pleated collars, and this season’s must-have — the strong shoulder. One is left wanting for more than the aqua digital prints presented, all of which Shah has done inhouse, with a team of 20. “It was a task to blend the colours,” she says of her technique. “We’re already planning our Winter collection,” she says.
Where to buy: KhushiZ store in Juhu, Kimaya and Fuel
Prices: Rs 15,000 for separates, and around Rs 30,000 for a dress
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