The humble dhanekhali can be much more than Mamata Banerjees trademark attire. It can be seriously sexy, as was in evidence in the first weaves show on the third day of KFW. The Story of Weaves, a section of KFW that concentrates on the weaves of Bengal, revolved around the subject of the traditional and the contemporary. The first show comprised traditional weaves – garad, dhonekhali, baluchari and dhakai, with a few kanthas making a special appearance. The show opened with a collection of silk balucharis. Next was a range of garad – with blue and orange borders for a variation on the off-white red-bordered traditional pieces. Nayanika was stunning in an orange-bordered garad with sleeveless red blouse. Dhakais followed in red and off-white, blue, red and orange, both traditional and trendy. But the real show-stealers were the dhanekhalis in colours like red and black, with broad striped borders, or muga silk pallus, paired with stringy, black halter neck cholis.
Soon it was onto the menswear – tussar churidar kurtas paired with regally embroidered chadors in kantha. And then came Nandana Sen, the showstopper, in a red silk sari with kantha embroidery. Alta-tinted feet, heavy silver anklets, waist chain, chunky earrings and lots of bangles completed the look. The sari I am wearing has been made by a self-help womens organization called SHE, announced Nandana after the show. The theme had to be true to authentic, traditional, Bengali style but communicable to the audience, said Nandita Palchoudhuri, who has collected all the saris for the show.
Styling started with the drapes, which varied from the traditional Bengali to a number of innovations. Chunky silver accessories added to the ethnic effect. Hair ornaments made of shola, sported by all the models, was the final Bengali touch.
The second show was more funky, with the theme shifting to innovation in weaves. The drapes were innovative too – wrapped like dresses, paired with a shirt, or like a skirt. Chunky cuffs completed the hip look. The show opened with a range of natural-dyed tussars that revived the old pachha-par weave (where the border came right up to the hip) in colours like cobalt and red. There were innovations in batik, kantha on silk and as well as georgette in contemporary patterns like geometric shapes. Rituparna as showstopper was the final touch in a rani pink silk blouse paired with a lycra bolero with a flame orange sari in tussar and cotton blend. The pallu, a Phulia weave, was patterned on Madhubani art. I love the wonderful play of colours, as well as the innovative drape and the mix-and-match of the whole attire, said Rituparna.
While the tussars were sourced from Ramananda Basak and his teams of weavers from Phulia, the batiks were from Suchi, who works with local women in Santiniketan and the kanthas from Shamlu Dudejas Mallikas Kantha Creations.
Neeta Lullas muse for KFW season II was Devdass Paro, a look she had successfully created seven years ago for Sanjay Leela Bhansalis opulent period drama. With the Devdas backdrop score setting the mood, the models did a little choreographed opening wearing Bengali drapes and red bindis, with diyas in hand. Heavily embroidered saris in every colour of the rainbow appeared on the runway, with an extra dose of white, red and gold. Then came lehngas in ice cream shades, decked up with silver embroidery, brightly bling. Pearls, sequins, lace, net -- name it and you could see it, all at once! From slim mermaid style cuts to flouncy and frilly ones, some pieces were a blast from the past, Bollywood circa 1980s and 1990s!
More saris followed – this time the cocktail kind. The first blouse was blinding and the blouse actually resembled a space suit! Pre-pleated saris followed and then came a sequence featuring tiered kurtis with palazzo pants, kalidaar lehngas worn with long jackets and more mix and match silhouettes.
The last segment was reserved for the full-on bridal pieces and of course, Sameera Reddy. Washboard abs, contoured face, the Bollywood bombshell walked well and also tried a coy little at the end of her ramp romp!
Soumitra Mondal showed a line for spring-summer 2010 under his label Forme on day three of KFW season II. The designer chose his usual cottons — some crushed and most plain — to create easy separates that are waiting to be worn with lycra leggings or denims. Batik checks strategically highlighted with sequins that gleamed under the arc lights comprised majority of the collection. Vine batiks were also seen. Sometimes the designer cleverly combined the two. Towards the second half of the show, Soumitras organic feel had an unexpected visitor in neon green circular sequins, which did wonders to lift the collection. Big floral motifs, ikkat-effect or random in placement, these neon babies, though a lift from Rajesh Pratap Singhs past collection, did look very effective on the runway.
Silver PVC ankle straps twirled along the front of the foot made for interesting footwear. But Neetu Chandra, meant to be show-stopper, turned out to be the show spoiler. Her Bollywood jhatka and matka catwalk did nothing to make up for her fat or her unflattering black and white dress.
PS: It was Sabya syndrome last season. This time, the Howrah designer decided to feel inspired by Dev R Nils batik cubes and Kallol Dattas window pane prints, in addition to Rajesh Pratap Singh. The similarities were too strong to be co-incidental.
Pictures by Pabitra Das
KFW II Snippets
Sweta Chhawcharias collection Age of Innocence was big on florals. The designer concentrated on tunics paired with leggings, with masses of floral embroidery. While the colour palette revolved around red, shades of pink and green, because the inspiration was flowers, the fabric used was mainly georgette, net and lace. Draped sleeves, some ruched tunics and leggings look a little forced, while the embroidery – twisted crochet threads, French knots, gota and more – was a bit much. A little moderation would have worked better. Showstopper Bidita carried a bouquet in her hand to emphasise the theme further.
Shades of Life by Vinit Agarwal tried to do it all, and left little impression. Playing on the colour theme, the designer played around with colours like black, browns,whites and reds. The fabrics were georgettes, lycra, net and shiny khaddi material. The silhouettes varied from super short dresses, draped tops, halter necks, some long dresses to even saris. Lots of texturing, ruffled details, some crochet and pleating at the neckline, body and sleeves completed the look.
White Lie by Soma Nath was reminiscent of a graduation fashion show. Elaborate headdresses and white socks on the feet did nothing to help the collection. The colour palette was simple enough – white, with fabrics including cotton, crepe and lace. Foil printing, texturing and pintucks and pleating were used. The silhouettes varied from straight-fit dresses, balloon hemlines, some halter necks and spaghetti straps, dresses paired with shrugs, long dresses to short tiered dresses. The many Tilottama 2009 finalists among the models did much to lift the mood.
Gopal Roys collection seemed tailored for the Pujas. Only the dresses with dollops of zari embroidery seemed more fit for the idols than mortals. The designer seemed to have drawn inspiration from daker saaj. One dress even had a row of golden bells stiched to the hemline. Gold lace detailing added to the bling. The colour palette was mostly dark, dusty peach, greys, greens and browns and the fabrics were textured, self-embroidered crepes. Dresses, asymmetric skirts and empire lines were some of the cuts used. The bags brought down the show further.
Picture by Rashbehari Das and Pabitra Das
This is where it all began… Monapali, the founder and principal of the Calcutta School of Fashion (CSF), took the runway and showed why there are who they are. The over-dyeing, block prints, layering, kantha, colours and textures — all what CSF is so famous for really does originate here.
Velvety kaftans in jewel tones appeared in succession with peeking cutaway beaded backs. Top-of-the-line arty techniques and tribal influences went hand-in-hand all through the show, a saturated colour palette maintaining the mood all along. Coloured stripes on the models eyes and motifs painted on their feet, the models then came in suits and their signature concept saris. The plaited thread tassels added quirk to the collection and the night ended with Minissha Lamba in a beautiful bridal lehnga. The sister duo may be more known for their craft and less for their silhouettes but they always incorporate a trend or two in each collection. Draped sleeves, jumpsuits and a one-shoulder dress… tradition and trendy came face to face on day three of KFW season II.
Pictures by Rashbehari Das
|Picture by Rashbehari Das
Moon Moon Sen and Madhu Neotia (in orange) chill at The Signature Lounge at Pala where all the action shifts to before and the after the shows. We caught cricket commentator Gautam Bhimani chilling with designer Rocky S and ramp hottie Candice Pinto after the designer's show on Day I. "Signature stands for impeccable style, discernment and potency. The brand is pitched as the choice of the bold and beautiful. We believe high profile fashion events provide a perfect synergy with these values," said Kaushik Chatterjee, EVP & COO, USL, (RPC-East).
Sabyasachi Mukherjee on Monapali
When we were young students, Monapali was only an aspiration for us. They are an institution. Whenever I pass by Loudon Street, I turn to look at their window dressing and when I see them my hands are always folded in reverence.
Satya Paul, the sari specialists, showed on day four of KFW season II. A series of lehngas opened their presentation. Ornately embroidered with sequins and stones, zardosi and zari, the pieces still managed to look weightlessly wow.
The next sequence of lehngas boasted of signature Satya Paul prints in sunny colours, touched by sequins here and there with their trademark technique.
The first line of saris — some half-and-half, digital prints and mixed patterns — appeared eventually and it must be said that this is when the graph of the show dipped slightly… But it quickly perked up as the stars of the show — saris where weaves and prints amalgamated in intriguing layers — appeared. “The idea was to first weave the sari, then enhance the weaves with prints, simulating the weaves in places so that the prints look like an effect, not a defect,” explained Puneet Nanda, the designer. So it turned out that some ikkat and Maheshwari elements of the saris were actually printed, not woven! We loved how rainbow colours on one palla lifted a black sari. As usual, Satya Paul saris were super commercial and it is easy to imagine grandmother, mother and daughter all finding something from the collection. But how it looked on show-stopper Mandira Bedi when teamed on the ramp with a skimpy blouse is another story altogether!
(The inside story on that one is that choli confusion reigned supreme in room no. 2209 as Puneet Nanda of Satya Paul got Mandira Bedi fitted in his show-stopping outfit. With the sari worry over, Mandy baby tried out two blouses. And both were rejected! The reason? “They are inviting controversy,” laughed Mandira. She finally chose a halter blouse to go with her polki jewellery set.)
Kiran Uttam Ghosh
The penultimate day of KFW season II saw Kiran Uttam Ghosh’s show of both style and strength. The designer who marks 15 years of her journey this season sent out a retrospective collection that was preceded by 21 looks from her spring-summer 2010 line to a jam-packed show arena, with “muse” Chitrangada Singh in a Kiran sari in the front row.
The first look of her collection (pet-named ‘Flapper Girl goes to the Orient’) saw one ivory georgette angarkha on which was embroidered ivory lilies. Not just any lilies, but the same ones that Kiran (and her copycats) made popular in flaming reds and oranges in autumn-winter 2005. The same ones that she has had a “soft corner” for since 2004 when she did them in a tone-on-tone version. The same ones that travelled with her to Rome for Couture Week (autumn-winter 2006).
Flapper Girl really did take you to the Orient in the first 10 minutes. Those overlaps, those angarkhas… The layering was lovely, especially that bit when coarse silver net peeped out from under luxe layers of georgette. Her colours were tickling… the way teal blue met coral and both met mocha. Or the way lime went with lavender… A black sari-inspired drape dress in jersey which Nayanika Chatterjee wore so well was such a winning KUG moment.
The retrospective half of the show began with some pieces of her autumn-winter 2009-10 line that she showed in Delhi earlier this year. Capes, cowls and kilim embroidery mostly revolving around a cream colour palette complemented the silky white draped set. The line-up travelled a bit more in time and the audience was treated to some pieces from her autumn-winter 2006 and 2007 lines. Then returned her 2009-10 line with their Phulia drapes and temple sequin embroidery and knitted under-layers. We only wish there were some of her first pieces from the 90s.
The show, co-styled by designer Kallol Datta, made for interesting moments and quirks. There was a plum cardigan messily knotted at the back. The saris were worn with ganjees and draped tees, sometimes the pallas were bunched up in front as if the models were carrying babies. But the moment of the show came undoubtedly when Kiran picked up a bamboo bit from her installation at CIMA and hung a bridal lehnga on it. The image of model Bhavna carrying that bamboo on her shoulder, wearing pants with a shirt and the dupatta draped in front promised to linger on.
When a designer lets his creativity run wild in the name of novelty, it’s often a recipe for disaster. Tejas, who wants to “share a percentage of his business at KFW II” with his weavers, put on 18 examples of Everyman Everywoman (read: personalities from all walks of life) on the ramp on day four of the Kolkata Fashion Week season II. And not one piece stayed with you a minute after the show ended. Linen jackets, textured pants, ready-to-wear saris, jute trousers, Jodhpuri pants, printed dresses, kalidaar kurtas and mesh-worked pieces were hung on percussionist Bickram Ghosh and wife Jaya Seal Ghosh, footballers Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Ishfaq Ahmad, beauty expert Bridgette Jones, actress Chaiti Ghoshal, cricketer Jhulan Goswami and a few others. We liked Bridgette’s elegant walk and dancer Alokananda Roy’s poise on the ramp. “I am not nervous, but asked my daughters not to come because I would have been self-conscious then,” she smiled.
The Signature Style Hour was anything but stylish. Jaya Misra’s Prosaic Regality had a lot of high-waisted pants, cigarette pants, short dresses, ballroom gowns and off-shoulder dresses. Black and cream, blood red and black and red dresses, silk jackets, net saris with shimmering petticoats failed to leave an impression. And what’s with those net layered fedoras, red roses and stone work at all the wrong places? Jessica and Neeraj walked as the bride and the groom and actress Anindita closed the show in a shocking red gown. All that glitters is not gold.
Prayrana and Kritika
The only good thing about this Delhi duo’s show was their selection of footwear. Tie-up sandals snaked up the legs of the models. As for the garments, there were georgette lehngas and dresses, voluminous gowns, silver dresses, red saris, jersey dresses, checked Jodhpuri pants, a black sari with satin piping…. Inspired by nature, there were butterfly clips, butterfly applique and a junglee soundtrack!
Pictures by Pabitra Das and Rashbehari Das
More glimpses of the day four action at KFW II...
Mandira Wirk’s sensibility screams Delhi loud and proud. Simply put, she is this generation’s Rina Dhaka or Suneet Verma. Neatly draped dresses in white opened the show and when the lights caught the sequins neatly sheeted in her modern silhouettes, you wished you were in them! Controlled cowls in silk jersey lent a look that was airy and quite Grecian. Her short body con dresses morphed into layered tulle gowns with fluted bodices and strappy suits worn with sheer churidars. Her pleating was pretty good and her eye for detail even better — those lovely buttons on the ombre sherwani, tassels delicately grazing the ankle at the edge of the churidar. Between nudes and baby pinks, suddenly in popped melon and caught everyone by pleasant surprise. The melon sequence was glamorous and gorgeous with sexy separates and saris. Her show-stopper Sophie Choudry looked svelte in a well-draped sari.
Mandira’s target clientele is the confident (and slim) Indian woman so if you are planning to buy a Mandira Wirk, get fit before you think of getting fashionable.
The third and final show of the Story of Weaves on the fourth day of KFW II was a lesson in how differently the sari can be draped. Even the traditional Bangali bou’s off-white and red dhakai metamorphosed into a long tube dress. The theme being eveningwear, the collection included rich weaves like silk tangails, kantha, innovative Phulia tussars, balucharis, dhakai jamdanis and zari-bordered cotton tangails in deep and jewel tones.
The show opened with a pink silk tangail. Then followed a blue, gold-bordered cotton tangail worn like a tiered dress, an orange cotton tangail draped like a tube tunic over an orange and red dhakai, a green and orange dhakai jamdani worn like a straight evening dress and more. A very Oriental, intricately-embroidered black kantha sari looked sexy when draped as a mini skirt, and Rituparna’s Phulia tussar sari from Friday, made by designer weaver Bappaditya, became a long tube dress in the third session, with the palla forming a contrast back. A black and beige kantha was perfect as a halter-neck drape, a turquoise cotton tangail made for a frothy skirt when paired with a white vest and a black Phulia tussar created the perfect fusion as a very desi drape over skinny pants. A black and silver cotton tangail was perfect as an evening dress, gathered at the neck, and a scarlet baluchari was fashioned into a draped dress. Elaborate hair dos and some nice neckpieces completed the eveningwear look. And the saris — paired with worked jackets, attached with big black bows, or black rexine add ons — made for a look that was very chic, very international.
“The saris were very traditional, so we experimented with the drapes for a fusion look,” said Aaditya Walia, stylist. Even in their normal avatar, the saris were special enough to turn heads. The show ended with Ramananda Basak and his team, who had made some of the saris for the Weaves section, taking a bow on the ramp.
Fathom — Deep Inside You saw the designer open and close with two of the most disastrous pieces from his collection. What was he thinking when he gave Resshmi Ghosh that black dupion lehnga with huge red flowers to wear? Or when he selected that red organza sari for Chandreyee Ghosh to open with?
In between he packed in festive tunics and party wear. Embroidered Benarasi dresses, angarkhas, cropped jackets, lehngas, suede pants and printed short dresses were shown. Men sported trousers, shirts and Arabian silhouettes.
The only touch of innovation was Rishi and Samidh belting out popular tracks as the models walked. And yesteryear star Supriya Devi on the ramp.
Souvik & Aditi
The designer duo showed Sarvatmika, the strong-willed independent woman serving as the inspiration. The autumn-winter 2009 line had cotton, silk and matka ghagras, jackets, patialas, dresses and printed pieces. And it was a colourful collection with mehndi green, burgundy, red, bottle green and orange. Crochet net was the constant feature. Fancy jholas, potlis and batuas with dangling cloth strips were the collection hits. And everything was “bio-degradable”, said Aditi after the show.
Pictures by Pabitra Das and Rashbehari Das