ALUMINIUM IKAT AND HALF A TROUSER
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Of Rajesh Pratap's architectural clothes and Zubair Kirmani's orange autumn
An intriguing aspect of Rajesh Pratap Singh's show on the second day of WIFW Autumn-Winter 2011 were metallic tree-like installations laden with dozens of toy cars. Was this the designer's way to remind people that the show was sponsored by Tata Manza? Perhaps, Pratap was making a larger point. The excess of cars in urban spaces may become the woods we might lose ourselves in, in the future.
Pratap is not only a ponderous designer, he has clarity of vision that only brutal self-assessment can bring. This time though, his collection missed the wood for the trees. The narrative of the story he named Architectural Romance became laborious, as it meandered through a bunch of good ideas that may have worked better without so many nuances. Bubble silhouettes and anti-fits, some in diaphanous textiles, termed by him as aluminium ikats, were chased by floral embroideries, leather and felt appliques and pixelated leather sequins. Black-and-white dominated the palette, making Pratap's canvas stark, even as hints of pink, orange and silver craned out of clothes that challenged form. Some garments had Pratap's minimalist elegance, others defied not just wearability but even appeal. In the end, he sent out long, Wiccan velvet coats, in jewel tones and turned the tide of his collection. There was steeliness of look in the garments, yet it lacked Pratap's usual fashion gritty.
Not long back, Kashmiri designer Zubair Kirmani, one of the young and restless Indian designers, told me how he connects with his motherland through his creations. Unsurprisingly, the visceral angst of Kashmir has always been on the top of his mind. It has taken Kirmani much mental muscle to remain a part of the fashion industry, where he has sometimes felt like an outsider. This collection, though unnamed, signals a new-found happiness. Kirmani put his black-and-white thoughts aside and used orange and red. "It is about happiness," says the designer, who only sent out dresses on the ramp. All easy, short, black evening wear dresses, some even good for resort outings, all generously embroidered in the deep orange of autumn; while others were as unabashed as black and red together can be. Dori embroidery that mimicked patterns of wooden carvings, an aari jacket, which was an unmissable leaf from his nostalgia, and joyous patterns that trace Kirmani's return to the ramp made for a focussed collection. Wearable? Yes. Creatively superb? No. What remained a mystery was just one cropped black trouser in the entire collection — it caught attention because it looked so abrupt in the assembly of dresses. Why was it there?
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