MUMBAI — The Lakme Fashion Week summer-resort shows were all about comfort with a feminine cut and play on fabric.
The terrace area of the ninth floor of the St. Regis hotel here, where the five-day event was held from March 30 to April 3, encapsulated the event’s spirit with live music, coffee, photo areas and a view of the city. The terrace also provided designers with the opportunity to show off their runway creations on friends and models circulating among the visitors.
High heels were replaced with cool sneakers and for the most part, the form-fitting silhouette that dominated in past seasons, especially among the young designers who launch at Lakme Fashion Week, was replaced by relaxed layering.
Masaba, who launched at Lakme five years ago, exhibited the trend: She still had the big prints that characterize her work — sliced garlic and chilies in this case — but these were combined with comfortable frills and tassels, adding femininity, with off-the-shoulder cuts, a bolero with shorts and digital print jackets. Long, tasselled earrings injected glamor.
Destination weddings were a big theme at LFW this year, with crop tops and boleros popular with both saris and lehengas (the Indian-style full, long skirt). Elegantly stitched dhotis (usually traditional men’s wear) were still a big statement theme for women, as seen in Anita Dongre’s collection, called Lovenotes. While many designers display fantastic styles on the runway, Dongre has always been about wearable while others, such as Sva, a label by Sonam and Paras Modi, focused on elegance and luxury. In the bridal/glamor segment was debut designer Shriya Som, whose crystal, sparkling silver fringes set off the shoulders and arms with delicate beauty.
LFW also gave birth to Ajio, an e-commerce venture owned by Reliance Retail, the largest retailer in India.
With the slogan “Doubt is out,” a flash mob to build interest before the event and a campaign building suspense around the theme, the site kept the mystery going until the end. The message was clear, though: To break stereotypes and chart your own way forward.
Myntra, Jabong and Amazon are the main players in India’s fashion e-tail market but over the last year brick and mortar chains have finally realized the power of tossing their hat into the ring. The Aditya Birla Group launched their fashion portal Abof in October 2015, and now Reliance arrives with Ajio. The site is expected to stock more than 200 Indian and international labels.
The show to launch the portal had five segments featuring five women who have broken stereotypes, from transgender rights activist Laxmi Tripathi to Helen, known for her flamboyant dance in Indian movies in the Sixties and Seventies. The show emphasized that there was no bar to making choices — whether with age, gender or careers.
And diving into the see-now-buy-now debate, those attending or watching the show could click on the Web site and order the styles they liked immediately.
The new theme of sustainable and Indian textiles day — although clumsily captioned — was all about combining the past and the future more cleverly. Wendell Rodricks created a museum-style presentation to show off his fabrics. “I stayed far away from Benares silks and gold thread weaves to stay away from an opulent look. What has been most satisfying is to use hand woven silks to optimum effect,” he said.
Literally glowing was Berlin-based brand ElektroCouture, with its focus on light technology for fashion.
“You catch people with the ‘wow’ factor,” Lisa Lang, founder of ElektroCouture, explained. “We use light technology the way other designers use color or cut. We want to make it easy to wear.”
Her own glowing necklace, with removable, rechargeable units, along with her pink-red hair, made her stand out. “Light triggers a very strong emotional connection,” she said, adding that all of their designs were being fitted with active sensors and the new collection is all chargeable.
Showing on the runway in collaboration with other designers, Lang said that “working together — whether with other designers or technology people — was also a key to the future.”
“At ElektroCouture, collaborations are the key to success. Only in cooperation can we make the next step towards innovation. There are so many amazing artists out there and together we can tell a very powerful story,” Lang explained, showing a yoga pant that will be launched at Berlin Fashion Week in July that uses technology to heat the points of select chakras as the wearer’s body heats up.
There were other eye-catching moments, including Lalit Dalmia’s blue fishtail gown stood out for the virtuosity of its design and not just the fancy headgear that gave it a royal elegance and Asa Kazingmei’s cleverly phrased collection — called Repnotic, inspired by, of all things, the iguana. The designer said that the creature inspired the harmony and balance in the collection, with its melting shades of green and blues, net and lace, and mermaid-shaped gowns.
The five days of LFW finished with a show by Rohit Bal held at the historic St. Xavier’s, a liberal arts college in Mumbai, with 3-D mapping effects projected on the heritage structure. There were 90 models, with lots of Bal’s signature embroidery, crystal and elegant muted ivory and golds.
Aside from the excitement and media attention that LFW always draws, there was also some satisfaction about business. As designer Pallavi Jaipur (who only did an exhibition booth, not a show) said, “There were special meetings organized with the buyers where we could make presentations and talk about business. Buyers just don’t have the time or patience for runway shows anymore. This worked out much better for all of us.”