The show must go on

As the India Couture Week kicks off digitally, designer Gaurav Gupta’s collection revolved around the themes of love and inclusivity and presented wedding fashion in sophisticated shades. By Sakshi Sharma

The pandemic and then a series of lockdowns, that followed shortly after, gave us a moment to hit pause on our fast-paced lifestyles. There was enough time to reflect on our actions, relationships, beliefs, the power of art, fashion and creativity. We could discover a narrative that stirs the existing dialogue of love, where the boundaries are patched, corridors of division are narrow, cults and definitions are pushed far and wide to make space for love — the only thing that matters. This is what fashion designer Gaurav Gupta’s muse turned out to be while he worked on his collection for the FDCI India Couture Week 2020, the digital version. He said, “Through our theme — Name is Love — we aim to put all the light on love; for self, all genders, all body shapes, all ethnicities, all sexualities, and most importantly, for inclusivity.”

During the process of casting models for the show, which kickstarted online yesterday, he discovered “beautiful stories” where differences and sexualities were not just accepted but celebrated. Said Gaurav, “We were enamoured by every individual’s sheer optimism. Their experiences felt familiar and bold. And I realised that their stories needed to be told.”

A young, proud lesbian couple Anjali and Manauti living with their parents; Vee, an 18-year-old trans-male student; Anjali Lama, the first Indian trans-female supermodel, and many other models who earned a name in unconventional setups, became the designer’s many ways to represent the varied forms of love. “I hope that this message resonates and connects with millions who are facing prejudice or feel inhibited to express themselves due to the pre-conceived societal norms,” said Gaurav and emphasised, “We’re celebrating uniqueness.”

In these desperate times when humans have become more agile and vulnerable, the designer was glad that technology could make the Couture week happen. Said he, “It was the need of the hour to keep the show going, lighten up the mood and make things more celebrative. It has given me hope. It’s so nice to see that millions of people around the world can view the show and our collections.”

Well, the show is definitely different under the shadow of the novel Coronavirus but what’s new this time? “We have presented 50 new women’s wear, 20 men’s wear and 50 jewellery pieces. I wanted my collection to reflect me and my choices. It had to be very ‘Gaurav Gupta.’ I also discovered new colours like Cerise, Bright Emerald, Berry Pink, Snow Pink, Shadow Pink and more. I wanted to give a new life to these sophisticated colours. I also wanted to do a whole Black-and-White line. It was very new and cool for me. I also played with a lot of organza giving rise to new forms,” he said.

Another notable thing about his collection, he pointed out, was the indigenous technique of sculpting, which was reinvented in the form of structured wings, graphic spiralling ruffles and architectured waves. “We have also incorporated dramatic shimmers, sheer fabrics, 3D floral applique, intricate hand embroideries along with pearls and metallic sequins,” said Gaurav.

The designer’s men’s wear was refined with embroideries and mystical motifs. Said he, “We have introduced full Bordeaux velvet suits with the house’s signature sculpting techniques, punctuating the looks and creating perfect statement pieces for a cocktail or reception.”

The garments, sharply tailored and accented with ornate hand embroideries, gave a meticulous and detailed look — coming all the way from the crisp ‘Downtown Abbey’ shirt in Egyptian cotton. The collection was further elevated with timeless accessories across all categories like pocket squares, bow-ties and loafers.

Gaurav’s collection also found their way to the couture jewellery. The line was expressed through five distinct elements of infinity, classic, pearl, feather and forest and featured pieces created with rare diamonds, rubies, emeralds, opals and tanzanite — sourced from Burma, Botswana, Colombia and Hyderabad.

The handmade collection was created with precious stones, crafted in shades of white and rose gold. It was rendered with details of a custom wedding gown. The jewellery was inspired by the Indian heritage integrated with the influences of the Victorian era. Said Gaurav, “We have taken this ideology to construct and re-invent these jewels. What makes our jewellery couture unique is a distinct approach, where each diamond is individually cut according to the design.” His latest collection included necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings and ear-cuffs.

Talking about whether the festive market is trending more than the wedding one, the designer chose the latter. He said, “The wedding market is more in trend and will always be. Brides are looking for authentic sculptures and that ‘wow’ factor, something timeless that they can wear even after four to five years. They can also mix and match a lot of things from my collection. They wear our lehenga blouses with saris because there’s so much detail in each element that one is able to play it up as and when they want to.”

When we talk of the Couture Week, it is imperative to know the consumer behaviour as the buying pattern internationally has undergone a drastic change. The gulf countries are purchasing more as they are comparatively less affected from COVID-19. Added Gaurav, “But slowly and gradually, the international markets are coming back into line. We have a big market in the gulf all across UAE and Middle East. Earlier, they used to fly down and have couture appointments but this time they’re all purchasing our products online, even couture. They do video consultation with our stylists and get garments fitted virtually.”

Source: The Pioneer