It’s that time of the year again when Mumbai hasn’t turned into the sweltering sauna it usually is, the weather is primed for a new wardrobe, and the Indian fashion fraternity is happily in the mood to oblige. The Lakme Fashion Week Summer Resort 2020, (LFWSR 20) in partnership with IMG Reliance and Nexa kicks off today at the Jio Garden in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex, a bigger and more expansive venue than St Regis, which hosted the Autumn-Winter edition in 2019. The line-up this year has some big names returning to Mumbai, while the young, newer ones continue to lead from the front. We spoke to textile revivalist Ritu Kumar, and designer Manish Arora, who are both displaying in Mumbai after a long hiatus. They talk about their respective collections, sustainable fashion and using fashion as a medium of change.
Weaving a New Tapestry
Ritu Kumar has been one of the few vocal supporters of our dying handlooms and textiles. And she has not restricted herself to just Indian weaves. Her quest for documenting and reviving varied weaves has taken her to many countries. For LFWSR 20, Kumar has partnered with Lenzing and has used their new age fabric Ecovero for the collection titled ‘Nature’s Origami’, which is a culmination of four stories — artist Mrinalini Mukherjee’s exhibit at the MET, Neo origami, flora and fauna, and Sundarvan. “Owing to Mrinalini’s work with knotted textiles, the capsule encompasses fabric manipulation and the revival of age-old textile techniques. At the crossroads where modern chevron meets classic florals, you will see lace and layered surfaces in Neo origami”.
One of Ritu Kumar's designs that will be showcased at Lakme Fashion Week
The collection is also a departure from Kumar’s usual favourite — embroidery. While we see prints emblazoned on Jodhpurs, lungis and straight silhouettes, the embellishments have been kept to a minimal. “For the first time, we have steered very clear of embroidery. The idea of origami is an allusion to self-sustained crochet techniques that have been practised in convents in Andhra Pradesh for a long time. We have tried to incorporate them in several ways — from restructuring the thread in the weaves in the form of a knit to plaited accents on the garments in turn giving them a three-dimensional look,” explains Kumar, who works from Delhi. ‘Nature’s Origami’ would be an interesting collection to see as Kumar has always championed the cause of Indian handwoven textiles, and here she is working with a new fabric that’s machine made. “I was quite convinced after I heard that they (Ecovera Lenzing) consciously make efforts to get the wood from reliable sources and also use the bi-products of viscose like sulphates as well as the chemicals that are disposed off in a responsible way. I think it is a good initiative to be able to source a fabric that gives a rich look that viscose does; especially the top end of the fabric which almost looks like silk. I think it is a necessity to have something like that which doesn’t have to be polyester,” she adds.
Colour Me Pop
Manish Arora is known for his love of loud pop colours, bold Indian prints, oversized accessories and a melodramatic flair that dominates everything possible. Now, Arora is presenting a collection dedicated to the LGBTQIA community, titled ‘We Are Family’. “It is eclectic and colourful and is inspired by the LGBTQ community, which is all about happiness, joy and celebration,” says the Delhi-based designer.
One of Manish Arora's designs that will be on display at Lakme Fashion Week
Arora has often championed the cause of the LGBTQIA community, and feels that the Indian fashion fraternity has always done the same. “It is about celebrating the extraordinary and saluting the spirit of a tribe that redefines their destiny by daring to defend their dream. This is a collection that fuels their passion and provides a passage for their creativity in an explosion of colour. A family that bonds beyond the biological, a borderless, gender fluid, inclusive assemblage that embraces the creative energies of LGBTQAI artistes, performers, Instagram activists, club kids and beauty monsters,” he stresses. We see a lot of coral pinks, peaches, mint green, bleached blues, fuchsia pink and lemon yellow. Arora’s favourite, the neon green will be conspicuous by its absence. One can expect a lot of ruffles, sequined embroidery, bold prints paired with long skirts, jackets, tunics and shirt dresses made with cotton, taffeta and silk. Think volume, flair and drama. Arora feels that in this digital age, everything is possible, given the high levels of awareness, and of course social media. Sustainable fashion and awareness about LGBTQIA, too, is all possible through increasing awareness. “Today the Indian consumer is fashion conscious and is ready to redefine fashion on the global stage owing to globalisation. The strength and reach of social media has now empowered a world that is digital and which offers an influential platform to the happenings around the world,” he says.