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Kareena Kapoor walked the ramp for Shantanu & Nikhil at the LFW finale

Shantanu & Nikhil’s LFW finale was all about the charge of the woman brigade

  • Published 5.02.19, 8:21 PM
  • Updated 5.02.19, 8:21 PM
  • 3 mins read
Lakme brand ambassador, Kareena Kapoor Khan walked for Shantanu & Nikhil, exuding diva-glamour in a black number The Telegraph picture

When we caught up with Shantanu Mehra, one half of designer duo Shantanu & Nikhil, way before the Lakme Absolute Ultimate Finale by Shantanu & Nikhil, he was totally tight-lipped about his finale muse Kareena Kapoor Khan’s look. But he did open up about the collection — Recruit — that brought the curtains down on Lakme Fashion Week Summer Resort 2019 in Mumbai on Sunday night.

What is the story of Recruit?

It is the continuation of our dialogue on India. It’s that whole meaningful dialogue on bringing nostalgia back into our lives, making it look sexy and modernising it with a twist. It resonates with an emotional message that we try to bring to the table through fashion. It pretty much sets the tone for gender equality, freedom of expression, freedom of thoughts and opinions. We’ve used that tool again.

This time around we are actually taking a step forward through an all-women’s collection where the woman who is the muse for the collection is almost like leading the pack of women to lead the country through this whole emotion of valour and sort of blurring the lines of gender. She has pretty much taken the baton from the men and is leading that charge. She is taking a battalion through a clarity of thoughts. So, there is a full storytelling happening through Recruit.

The traditional sherwani has been given a modern look in a female form. So, you will see a lot of bandhgalas and sherwani-inspired silhouettes which have taken the form of jacket-length juxtaposed with our signature drape… a lot of those masculine energies are coming in through silhouettes and sartorial shapes and forms. There is a bit of exaggerated shoulders and capes, sort of almost making the woman look fierce, very comfortably glamorous and bold at the same time.

The collection is pretty much in the colour palette of matte red that has been introduced by Lakme this time — the Matte Reinvent lip colour called the Red Extreme. For us, that by itself is a huge reinvention because we have never played with red and it has come beautifully in the matte texture and we have integrated blacks and golds.

So, red is the colour that shows fearlessness of the Indian woman and resonates beautifully with the Indian skin tone. The red is really very different. It is in its most matte format and that in itself was a challenge.

Lakme was always about shine, shimmer, glamour and the fact that they probably noticed that we do a lot of monochrome — less is more and minimalism is our mainstay — I think that is the way this association happened.

Bathed in dramatic red, it was in sync with the Shantanu & Nikhil collection that drew inspiration from Lakme’s beauty theme — Matte Reinvent.
Bathed in dramatic red, it was in sync with the Shantanu & Nikhil collection that drew inspiration from Lakme’s beauty theme — Matte Reinvent. The Telegraph picture

Why did you decide to call the collection Recruit?

In the past we have realised that couture has become more about storytelling and as designers it is our responsibility to tell a story through our title and then use that as a way of making it a sub-brand. So, in the past we have done collections like Regiment, Independence, The Tribe. I have customers come in and say: “I want to wear something from The Tribe’. It is almost as if they are buying a story. Once you have a story and a title, you automatically take the onus away from just the clothes to the wearer. The wearer sort of feels a part of that story.

So, more power to women…

That’s what we have been advocating in the last two years where a lot of the masculine energies have overlapped with female energies and female energies have gone into masculine silhouettes. When we first introduced the draped men’s kurta, it started to blur the line and we were asked many a time by the same woman that we need some masculinity. That set the tone for this emerging market called the millennial wave of understanding fashion where they want to sort of dig deep into the Indian nostalgia. And then we modernise it and twist it and sort of blur the lines… that’s where we have been heading, almost like a second innings of Shantanu & Nikhil.

So, celebrating the India proud moment has begun…

It has and it is taking different turns and emotions that we go through in our lives. This is a story that will probably never end. We will never let it end and I think that’s the way India is heading. There is a burst of new energy that comes along the way and things are changing, fashion is changing and couture is changing. And, I think as artists and designers, it is our social responsibility to understand where we can start advocating some messages through dialogues with fashion, which is also commercial at the same time, but resonates and takes the familiar zone but makes it look a little bit more exotic. It’s not that we are going completely berserk or avant-garde. It is just that we are making the familiar Nehru collar look a little more sexier and accessible. That’s where the juxtaposition is.

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