Floral motifs and paisleys won hands down with designers like Narendra Kumar experimenting with fabrics like cotton silk, silk wool, brocades and more
Dandies were the ultimate heroes at recent fashion weeks. As India revelled in its first fashion week for men the Van Heusen India Mens Week 2009 (VHIMW) in Delhi (please note: its only the fourth of its kind in the world) the new-age man walked the ramp with his love for the tailored, the luxurious and, of course, the quirky. The Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai, that celebrated 10 years of Indian fashion, too rained colours and oodles of Metrosexual Style.
At the VHIMW, 21 designers strutted their for-men-only stuff over three days while the Mumbai fashion gala devoted one exclusive day for menswear for the third season in a row.
The common denominator was the generous smattering of feminine paisleys, butterfly motifs and ruffle trimmings. So much so that the line between the genders seemed to vanish in keeping with what The Kinks, the 60s English rock band, once sang: Girls will be boys/ and boys will be girls/ its a mixed up world.
Designer Narendra Kumar points out that come summer of 2010 and men should be well on the road to becoming experimental with what they wear. Now that a fashion week just for men has kicked off, we would love it if men loosened up, smiles Kumar. Almost as if to reinforce his point, his Spring/Summer 2010 menswear collection is themed on Florentino Ariza, the lovesick poet from Gabriel Garcia Marquezs Love In The Time of Cholera, whom he dresses in pretty colours of the Caribbean.
The opening show of the VHIMW set the tone with Ravi Bajajs Dandy March, a self-indulgent line of menswear for the dandies about town. It was Bajajs first time on a fashion week ramp even though he happens to be a founder member of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI).
Meanwhile, the men turned flirtatious, taking off their robes and showing off slick, waxed bodies in naughty boxers for Rohit Bals Badmaash Collection. The theme was the designer himself. I, me and myself, he says.
There was plenty more drama. Brothers Shantanu and Nikhil showcased yards of chenille in rich reds and toga-clad men in a collection titled Alexander the Great. While Samant Chauhan, the young designer known to work extensively with Bhagalpuri silks, actually made men wear long and short pleated skirts.
But it took debutant designer, Himmat Singh from Jaipur and his Prince Collection, to showcase the dashing male, complete with hunting breeches and whips. The only other debutant at VHIMW, Aslam Khan, settled for a chirpy range of bright coloured casuals.
VHIMW might have been the first ever fashion week exclusively for Indian men, but doing serious business wasnt on the agenda. Buyers were few and far between. Spotted were Atul Malhotra from Chennai-based store Evoluzione and Feroz Dalal, a representative of the retail chain Aza Men. Attendance of international buyers was thin and limited to Doris Pietrek from the US-based store Anthropologe and David Schneider from the Portuguese store, Living Fashion.
Shital Mehta, COO of Van Heusen, terms VHIMW more as a brand building exercise. And Rocky S points out that he did not even put up a stall. He says: I did not expect business. This is more a case of forecasting mens fashion.
Amidst all this hullabaloo, we did spot a few haute looks to add to your wardrobe.
Colour me pretty
|Paint the town in all shades, with designers like Ashish Soni making a fashionable statement in colours like lime green
The colour meter ran awry. It registered hot pinks, fluorescent greens, purples, yellows and vermilions. On the other end of the spectrum were pale mauves and sweet baby pinks.
Rajvi Mohan, one of the few Indian women designers who focuses only on menswear, turned out playful lilacs, burnt oranges, bright oranges and surfer blues that would remind you of a sun-kissed beach. It is for the man who gives a damn when he is on holiday, laughs Mohan. And while Ashish Soni dabbled with lime greens, pale yellows and bright reds for his range, Rajesh Pratap Singh favoured red and white check gamchha (the traditional Indian towel) prints.
The purple palette was all pervasive. Zubair Kirmani sprinkled his otherwise sober collection of chocolates, blacks and whites with lavenders and lilacs in monochromed bandhgalas, shirts and lilac long shorts. We are going strong with the colours for Spring/ Summer of 2010, confirms Narendra Kumar. His monochrome suits came splashed with purples and dusted with pinks.
Looking for inspiration from an alternative sub-culture a blend of Goth, grunge and rock roll made designer Nitin Bal Chauhan combine neon accents with greys, blacks and whites. So his rock star wore music-inspired prints in contrasting psychedelic colours, with worn out washes, badges and chains to complete the look.
Wait, theres more from the LFW. Menswear designers Rohit and Abhishek presented their Spring-Summer 2010 collection of linens, satins, cottons and velvets in colours like orange, purple and rust. Then, designer Krishna Mehta took inspiration from the sadhus of the Kumbh mela to create a line in silks and linens in shades of wine and gold. And Kunal Rawal let the military influence of Cuba varying from oranges to purples and military greens make up his colour story.
If the lean look has been in for a while, the designers took it to new heights with skinny, tailored trousers. So well-fitted pants walked the ramp in cottons, linens, silks and lycras. For Rohit and Abhishek at LFW, trousers were lean, with pleats as details. Lean will be in demand for some time now, says designer Siddhartha Tytler.
Slim fits made a big statement at VHIMW too with silhouettes like cigarette fits and churi pants. Rajesh Pratap Singhs show was high on churi linen pants teamed with transparent linen shirts and kurtis. The casual, slim pants by designer couple Abhishek Gupta and Nandita Basu for their label Fightercock came with details like rivets, pockets, and zippers in checkered prints.
Another interesting collection belonged to Samant Chauhan, loaded with printed trousers in stretchable linens, lycras and lightweight cambrics.
The long and short of it
| The hat has made a comeback and how, with JJ Valaya teaming smart ones with suits
Shorts and three-quarters are the new biggies for men. Pants will go a little above the ankle and shorts will get a little longer for the summer of 2010, says designer Rajvi Mohan.
This edgy and trendy look can be mixed and matched to create a casual and believe it or not even a formal style statement where you can don them with formal shirts and blazers. At the VHIMW, style gurus like Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna, Manoviraj Khosla, Nitin Bal Chauhan and others showcased men semi-baring their legs to confirm this style statement.
Chauhan reckons three-fourths are here to stay. They are the next big thing for boys and men to exert their freedom, he adds. Men can take their pick from low-rise, anti-fits, loose fits and slim fits in denims, canvas, gabardine, khaki, linen, corduroys and more. Adding spunk will be zippers and a lot of pockets, both utility and mock. You will see shorts accented with zippers and multiple-pockets, says Khosla.
According to Rahul Khanna, by tnext summer, men will be trying out new things. In his label Cue, Khanna and his designer partner, Rohit Gandhi, have played with quarter lengths mostly in treggings (a cross between trousers and leggings) which they predict are going to be a hit.
Fashion guru Rajesh Pratap Singh whose collection was high on natural linen and silk blends, thinks that soothing fabrics are a must for cropped trousers and long shorts for the summer. So hike it up for the coming season.
Paisleys and florals
|Rohit Bal’s signature embroidery and ornate motifs were perfectly paired with slim pants and
oversized bags — a much touted accessory at the Van Heusen India Men’s Week 2009
The designers chose to stay in touch with their feminine sides at VHIMW. So, Narendra Kumar, Siddhartha Tytler, Abhishek Gupta and Nandita Basu and Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna stuck to florals and paisleys.
Shirts, jackets and even trousers were spotted with these rather feminine prints. Indian men no longer shy away from colours and floral prints, says Kumar. His repertoire included colourful floral scarves tied around the waist and geometric prints in linen, cotton silk, denim, velvet, silk wool and brocades. Sporting floral motifs is a good way of expressing confidence and a relaxed state of mind, affirms Kumar.
For Basu, lots of floral prints and embroidery brightened up shirts and jackets. And Rohit Bals jackets, velvet sherwanis and waistcoats with brown and red bases came alive with his signature lotus motifs in ornate embroidery and prints. Even Ravi Bajajs classy line in blacks, whites and beiges saw paisleys on shirts, jackets and even on pants.
Although Siddhartha Tytler introduced florals to make an impact on the runway, he was pleasantly surprised by the number of orders he received for floral shorts and trousers from men planning a beach vacation.
Trims and frills
| There’s some skin show on the offing with style gurus like Nitin Bal Chauhan predicting that long shorts are here to stay
Women, be prepared to eye your mans accessories, just as droolworthy as yours! Almost every designer including Ashish Soni, JJ Valaya, Nitin Bal Chauhan, Rajvi Mohan and Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna (Cue) offered tote bags at VHIMW.
And no they are not all-out girlie, Soni will have you know. From men using only laptop bags and briefcases we have a new trend of carrying bags and even clutches. Ronaldo carried a Gucci clutch to much acclaim recently, says Soni. Rocky S had black patent leather bags and glittering neck chains. And Krishna Mehta had models wearing strands of rudraksh.
The hat is back with a bang. While Valaya teamed smart ones with suits, Rohit Bal had velvet caps that covered the ears like earmuffs and Soni had classic English bowler hats. Himmat Singhs men wore them with the hunting gear and Nitin Bal Chauhan gave them a teenage hip look. Digvijay Singh, at LFW, featured bright coloured caps in cotton while designer duo Didier Lecoanet and Hemant Sagar had interesting hooded scarves.
If you are part of the fashion-conscious brigade of nattily dressed men, do not miss out on neckwear. Theres a whole lot of it, from slim and skinny ties that were shown by Cue, Gaurav Gupta and Fightercock to the bow-ties that were a staple with Soni and Bajaj. Narendra Kumar had neckties built into the shirts.
Also doing the rounds were scarves and stoles, often built into suits or kurtas. Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rocky S, Valaya and Bajaj threw them around the neck. Scarves featured in Aneeth Aroras collection made from gamchas and natural dyed khadi from Andhra Pradesh. What can they do for you? Make you dapper all at once without you having to try too hard.