Indian fashion just got bigger than ever with a double booster dose this season of not one but two fashion weeks hosted by the two glamour capitals of the country. Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai between March 28 and April 1, followed by the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in Delhi from April 5 to 9, saw more than a hundred designers stitching together the biggest ever style saga the country has seen.
Months of anticipation culminating in a tireless parade of haute clothes and high drama, big buzz and a flurry of activities marked the fab fortnight of Indian fashion.
With the rivalry between the Fashion Design Council of India and Lakme now played out and the ramp now empty, it's time to look back at those 10 days and their design diktat for autumn-winter 2006-07.
Smita Roy Chowdhury, who sat through both the Mumbai and Delhi shows, picks the five style stories set to be scripted on ramp and rack this year.
After the low, dangerously low and precariously low, the waistline is back where it belongs. And with more fanfare than before. A super-high waistline, emphasised and decorated, is the new design dictum.
'This is the year of the waist,' declares designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who rocked the Mumbai ramp with The Snail.
As the waistline rose, it also hogged the limelight. Whether dresses with heavily embellished waistline or skirts with broad beaded belts, the waist is where the focus lies. Empire lines were very visible, too.
'High waistlines with a lot of waist detailing is the new flavour of fashion. Be it skirts, trousers or dresses, the waist is heavily worked. It's a return to the Nineties,' feels designer Rina Dhaka.
'When we speak of waist this season, we mean the waist where it should be. Since femininity is a focal point, heavy waists that highlight the bust and the hips, thus lending the hourglass look, is strongly in fashion,' explains Sabyasachi.
The ubiquitous skirt continues to rule. Crinkled, gypsy, A-line, layered, gathered, pleated, straight, pencils and minis ' the shapes and styles thrown up were wide and varied. But a new twist to the skirt tale saw the garment stopping at the knee with a ballooned hemline.
Balloon skirts or bubble skirts, where the garment is away from the body and gathered at the hem, is the hot new silhouette for the coming season.
'Balloon skirts have been trickling in for the past few seasons, but this time they are a rage. I think this, too, is a comeback from the early Nineties. I remember wearing lots of balloon silhouettes as a child,' says Rina, who drew inspiration from her own past for her collection in the capital.
'Balloon skirts are a very big trend internationally for the coming fall-winter,' reveals Sabyasachi, who showed quite a few balloon silhouettes of varying lengths.
Not just skirts, balloon hemlines were noticed in dresses too. And here, too, the length was usually till the knee.
The other hit in the skirt story is the mini. 'Bare legs are also in fashion this year and hence minis have made a major comeback,' adds 'Sabya'.
Right from the opening show to the finale and almost every show in between saw jackets in a mind-blowing variety of lengths, styles and fabrics.
Structured fabrics like wool, tweed and velvet to softer knits and woven textures, there were jackets of every cut and kind, from tiny shrugs to calf-kissing coats nipped at the waist.
The shorter the better seems to be the mantra here, with the cropped, fitted jacket being the 'it' silhouette.
Shrugs are a rage, though many designers dub it as 'done to death'. From winter fabrics to sheer chiffons, georgettes and laces, shrugs were visible in most collections in Mumbai and Delhi.
'Fitted, short jackets of the Sixties have come back majorly. And so have shrugs, which were also a Sixties' phenomenon,' feels designer Manoviraj Khosla, who showcased his super-sexy line in Delhi.
Designer Raghavendra Rathore foresees a scramble for short and fitted jackets.
'The reappearance of the short jacket stopping below the belt has sparked quite a frenzy. The quilted cropped ones are very fashionable,' says the Jodhpur-based designer.
Along with shrugs, all forms of over-the-shoulder drapes are going strong. 'Slightly longer shrugs in a rounded form, hugging the shoulders, is very in,' feels Rina.
The heavy embroidered and sequinned look is down and out. And the new decor dictum is applique, along with crochet, lace and pearls.
Applique was arguably the most used form of embellishment, with close competition from crochet. Lace- work followed closely on its heels. And pearls, reminiscent of the classic Fifties, were used to stylise garments.
Designers blame the invasion of these new adornments on the general forecast of the clean look. 'There has been a lot of cleaning up in fashion ' of silhouettes, prints and embellishments. The look of the coming season is sophisticated and classic,' says Raghavendra.
So, the heavy embroidery has been replaced by the elegant crochet, which while allowing the designer to display equal handwork skill is simpler in appeal.
Applique, which has been trickling in for a few seasons now, has stormed the scene and is here to stay, feel designers. 'Embroidery has been done and done to death. So, designers had to find a suitable replacement and applique is the hottest form of surface ornamentation now,' reasons Manoviraj.
Move over delicate strappies and chic clutches. Bulk is the name of the game when it comes to add-ons this winter. High boots, chunky wedges and huge leather bags accompanied almost every line, thus driving home the point.
'The accessory look is very structured, like wooden jewellery and big leather bags,' says Sabyasachi, who made his models catwalk in chunky men's shoes, structured leather bags in hand.
The bags are big, structured and plain, sans embellishment, and largely functional. The footwear focus is on biker boots, thick wedges and wooden heels. 'The accessory feel is very chunky for the coming winter,' says Manoviraj, who had lots of motorcycle boots for women in his collection.