MUMBAI — Feminine silhouettes in pastels, nudes and peaches and a focus on Indian fabrics were the main trends at the five days of spring shows during Lakme Fashion Week here, which was marking its 15th year.
The shows, held at the Palladium Hotel, are about the current season, and the imminent summer could be seen in the softer shades on the runway, somewhat unusual for the Indian market with its preference for bright colors in all seasons. There was also a focus on ivory and whites, even as there continued to be bursts of color, such as at Krishna Mehta, and metallics, seen at Nikhil Thampi.
Designers paid greater attention to Indian textiles, worked into Western silhouettes, with embroidery at the heart of design: Large flowers at Manish Malhotra; prints and mirrors at Suneet Varma, and over-the-top sequins in many collections.
Jumpsuits are a key look for summer, as are long jackets worn over tunics, HotPants, lehngas, saris and gowns.
Lakme Fashion Week is organized by beauty brand Lakme and IMG Reliance Pvt Ltd. IMG Reliance is venture between Reliance Industries Ltd. and IMG Worldwide, the global sports marketing and management company.
The shows, which are held twice a year, brought together a number of leading Indian designers, who returned to LFW to mark its anniversary. These included Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Malhotra, Wendell Rodricks, Tarun Tahiliani, Anamika Khanna, Raghavendra Rathore and Varma.
Mukherjee’s show on Tuesday night, prior to the official opening of the event, was held at the Richardson and Cruddas mill in the heart of Mumbai and was notable as much for the scale as the clothes: 105 outfits, 62 models and a 182-foot long runway. Inspired by the Seventies, as many designers worldwide have been this season, his collection represented a visual recap of the fashion scene in India —and the wardrobe of an Indian woman — ranging from saris to gowns, jumpsuits to tunics and simple glamour with black saris stark against gold embroidered blouses.
Late Wednesday, the fashion crowd — and a large part of Bollywood — headed for another former textile mill turned into a rambling furniture store. Malhotra’s Blue Runway collection backed a social cause: opposition to gender-based violence against women. Models holding placards that simply said “equality” or “justice” stood silently on the runway. Predicting a season in which yellows will play a big role, as well as indigos and ivory, the collection itself contained few surprises, with lots of embroidery and glamorous lehngas. White rose petals rained onto the audience, and Bollywood stars studded the first row.
“It’s the first time that we have taken the show to these different locations on this scale,” said Purnima Lamba, head of innovation for Lakme. She said the locations changed a lot of the perceptions of fashion, to be much more exclusive.
Lakme planned to launch its new colors of the season at the finale show by Anamika Khanna, which was to be held Sunday night at the Bhau Daji Lad museum in Byculla. But a last-minute hitch — and a protest by a political faction about holding fashion shows in a museum — brought the show back to the Palladium hotel. Khanna had Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor as the showstopper. “I have played with a lot of drapes,” the designer said of her collection, which included a large segment in ivory with a selection of fine embroidery like zardosi, thread and metallics.
Overall, 83 designers showed during LFW, with two global brands launching in India — Germany-based Tom Tailor and Miss Bennett London. The brands will sell exclusively on Jabong, one of the largest fashion e-tailers in India, which is also an associate sponsor of LFW.
Arun Chandra Mohan, founder and chief executive officer of Jabong.com, said the launch of global brands was an additional focus. “The goal is very straightforward for us,” he told WWD. “We want to connect with the designer, work with them in putting up a show, then work with the designer at a strategic level so that their designs are available to people. This is also a great platform for international designers.”
Dieter Holzer, ceo of Tom Tailor, said the brand has been sourcing from India for years, but saw the market’s opportunity for launching in India at fashion week. “Coming to the Indian market feels like coming home,” he said. “There is a lot of brand acceptance here and our global production fits in very well with the Indian mainstream.”
He said part of this process was a serious study of the price points. “It was a priority to price it right,” he observed. Prices in India will range from 799 rupees to 11,999 rupees, or $12.92 to $123.99 at current exchange.
As a part of a continuing global expansion, Tom Tailor will launch in China this fall.
Miss Bennett London also took note of pricing — and set its range from 299 rupees to 2,499 rupees, or $4.83 to $40.40, for the Indian market. “The main thing is to make it really affordable,” said Natalie Jolliffe, the firm’s brand director.
She has a clear idea about the customers for the brand — “very young and tech-savvy” — and believes there’s a gap in the market for young fashion. “Girls want to wear what the celebrities are wearing. A lot of barriers are breaking down globally,” she said.
The show covered a broad spectrum of street/sporty/edgy outfits, with metallics and denim. There were pastels again, and an ivory sequined dress worn by Bollywood singer and actress Shraddha Kapoor.
A separate area called the Jabong stage was the setting for new and emerging designers. Six designers mentored by Anita Dongre showed Wednesday morning. Salita Nanda worked with a series of 3-D prints inspired by Picasso’s Cubist painting “Les Demoiselles D’vignon.” A graduate of the London College of Fashion University of the Arts and a diploma holder in fashion design from Milan Fashion Campus, Nanda’s standouts were transparent skirts with digital designs. Alan Alexander Kaleekal, a graduate of Studio Bereot Paris, showed his label Kaleekal, with solids and sheers in finely crafted cotton.
Others used themes to experiment. Karan Berry and Leon Vaz showed their label Karleo for a second season at Lakme Fashion Week with a simple theme: the 12 zodiac signs.