MUMBAI — Lakme Fashion Week has been both praised and criticized for its celebrity-on-the-runway antics. Bollywood stars walking the catwalk have been the delight of photographers, even as other observers argue their presence distracts attention from the designs themselves — and from business.But in the end, most designers agree that celebrities bring a level of media exposure that results in a fillip for business; that trends set by Bollywood stars continue to be the starting — as well as the tipping — point for business in India.At LFW resort 2018, which concluded here Sunday, the designer-celebrity link continued as strong as ever. With Mumbai being home to Bollywood, most celebrities were linked to the movies, heartthrobs of the present, or of the past.Here are some of the designer standouts of the season, their outlook for the trends and their choice of celebrity for their show:Designer: Narendra KumarNarendra Kumar is also creative director of Amazon Fashion, India, based in Mumbai.About the show/collection: Black, white and a dash of red, ath-leisure, sexy yet comfortable. A tongue-in-cheek look at fake news that seems to rule lives through social media along with some surprises from the designer. An opening film, with Kumar acting, rapping and doing multiple roles. The collection included T-shirts, bomber jackets, cropped pants with customized knit ribs for men, and sexy women’s wear, with high-waisted trousers and track suits, and knitwear that included one-piece dresses.Designer's take: “A key to the collection? It is called ‘the fake show.’ Because we’re living in a fake world where everyone says something for the sake of saying it, and in that world what you want is clarity — you look for black and white because you think it’s real. But today, black and white is not real either. That’s why this collection is in monochrome, inspired by hip-hop, customized for India. Ath-leisure is a big thing now, but the question is: How do you make it more modern, more luxurious and inspire the sense of cool? I have done that using lots of new silhouettes, using linen and knitwear. Ath-leisure doesn’t have to be competitive with Western brands. As the cycle of ath-leisure peaks and comes into the mainstream, a layer of luxury is being added to that, changing the understanding of the market."Celebrities, fake and real: Ranveer Singh, one of the most popular Bollywood actors, who's known for his quirky dress sense and experimentation in real life, appeared to walk the runway at the beginning of the show, wearing a multicolored sequined biker jacket with his name in large print running at the back. A clever ruse, given the big opening of his new and controversial film earlier this month. But following the theme of the show, it was a Ranveer Singh lookalike, a fake, that roused the audience.Rahul Khanna, another well-known actor — but not a fake, the real one — walked the catwalk at the end, elegant in all white. “I wear linen all the time, but I’ve never seen it used in this way, as sportswear. It’s a very energized version rather than relaxed,” he said.Designer: Anamika KhannaBased in Kolkata (Eastern India)About the show/collection: The show was at Bandra Fort, Mumbai, resplendent with history, with spotlights on the trees and the heavy night sky. A range of drummers and musicians stood on the high steps in the background as models wound their way around the different levels. The collection had a mix of shades and styles — floral, diverse, more down to earth, less glamour than what Khanna has shown in the past.Designer's take: "My collection is very versatile. The inspiration behind it is the Millennials who are free thinkers, wearing style in their own way, their attitude on their sleeves. There’s plenty of experimentation in this collection, with many different ideas going on; it is individualistic, making a statement. This time, I have mixed materials, with a lot of fabric development and manipulation techniques. I have used traditional zardozi — embroidery done in gold and silver thread — in the most experimental ways and mixed colors and print to make each piece a one-off style. Fashion is often thought to be ostentatious, but this collection is not. It’s one that everyone can wear with ease. The dress in black for the showstopper worn by Kareena Kapoor Khan is a sort of sari drape, teamed with pants to make it a little different and stronger."Celebrity: Actress Kareena Kapoor Khan, who's known for her individualism and speaking her mind, and admired for her devil-may-care attitude. She described the black lace, sari-style pant as "rocker chic, super sexy."“Walking the ramp for Anamika makes me feel very ‘hot,’” she said, adding that she was always happy to model. “Fashion is a top priority now. The youth love fashion, everyone is discussing it. Actors are becoming more and more fashion conscious, too. As long as you are comfortable in what you’re wearing it is automatically considered stylish and fashionable."Designer: Shyamal & BhumikaBased in Ahmedabad (Western India)About the show/collection: The collection, called "Wonderland," emphasized embroidery, pastels and muted tones, with a light, modern touch. Saris with ruffles, full skirts and gowns showed off the craftsmanship for which the designer duo is known. These include the use of beads, crystals, pearls on tulle and handwoven silks, satin and appliquéd organza, ruffled hems, and their signature cutwork edges.Designer's take: "For this spring and summer we came up with a very global sort of aesthetic," Shyamal said. "Opulence can also have a minimal kind of feel. We are designers, but the basic buildup for us is the craft and textile that India has to offer, which we use extensively in this collection. This is essentially for the global market, and does not have many contrasts — it can be an eye-pleasing aesthetic to someone who has not been brought up with so much color. It’s a fun line and very modern. Kangana Ranaut was perfect to showcase this — her own talent has grown multifold, this girl from a smaller town who came to Mumbai, worked very hard, is talented and is very vocal about her opinions, especially when it came to nepotism recently. She was perfect as a fairy-tale muse."Celebrity: Actress Kangana Ranaut said, "I absolutely love the way they have captured the essence of their muse. Their efforts to put Indian fashion on the global map is admirable as well as how they amalgamate global sensibilities with our rich Indian heritage. I was thrilled to walk for them."Designer: Jayanti ReddyBased in Hyderabad (Southern India)About the show/collection: "Life In Monochrome" was not drab in any way, colored with texture and style — saris and embroidered jackets with peplums, tassels, scalloped hemlines and tinges of gold embroidery. Bringing life to the collection were the off-shoulder blouses, capes, dhotis, skirts and ruffled veils. The collection was meant to follow a woman embarking on a journey, finding herself and her true identity.Designer's take: "I wanted to challenge myself. Working with monochromes is more difficult, I also kept my style of combining with fluidity, that’s important to me. I think a lot of brides of late have been moving away from colors, which is why I have given Shilpa Shetty a muted gold kind of an outfit."Celebrity: Actress Shilpa Shetty. The occasion was special as Shetty completed 25 years walking the runway, she said, speaking about the ivory lehenga she wore, covered with delicate embroidery and with its bodice, jacket and dupatta (veil) with ruffles. “You can wear this jacket with jeans as well, or with dhoti pants. There are a lot of permutations and combinations you can do with this dress,” she said, adding, “I love the fact that I’m a woman, and get the chance to dress up and I take full advantage of that.”
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