India designers mix femininity with tradition
NEW DELHI, (AFP) -Tiny frocks in free-flowing shapes with pretty bows and sleeves dominated the runways at the ninth India Fashion Week Friday. "The look is pretty with an emphasis on feminine lines," said fashion critic Satya Saran, editor of DNA newspaper's Me magazine.
In all, 87 designers are unveiling their autumn-winter collection trends for the critics and some 180 domestic and international buyers at the five-day fashion festival that ends Sunday.
Last season's big trend, the empire line, made way for balloon frocks and wrap dresses offset with tights in basic blacks and fluorescents.
Designer Anamika Khanna, who has taken her collection to the London Fashion Week several times, won plaudits with an understated and wearable collection of earth-brown tunics paired with breeches and narrow pants.
Double layers, tiny puff and cap sleeves and large collars added a touch of femininity.
The browns were offset with bursts of forest greens peeping from the linings of jackets and from under the collars. "Hers was a perfect example of balance between coolness and use of traditional Indian fabrics," said Tiziana Cardini, director of Italian department store chain La Rinascente.
Tarun Tahiliani, dubbed India's Valentino for his beautiful evening gowns, sent his models in Issey Miyake-style pleated saris in subdued two-tone peaches and beiges.
He also teamed single-shouldered and wrap dresses with Indian-style tights, gathered in circles at the ankle.
"Tarun's clothes were both sexy and glamorous. It's remarkable how he understands the vocabulary of Western fashion," said Cartini.
Critics said despite its new fashion industry, India's strength was in its rich crafts and colours and the key to winning global acclaim was in combining the traditional with the modern.
"If we are too Indian, we are living in a pond. If we are too Western, we will get lost. The challenge is to balance the India that was and the India that is becoming now," said leading fashion designer J.J Valaya, whose line is inspired by the Taj Mahal. "India has amazing materials and crafts. It is a goldmine. And luckily, Indian designers are staying true to their culture," Cardini said. "In these days of globalisation, it is important to find differences.""The colours and the crafts here are beautiful," said Shizue Hamano, fashion editor of the Japanese edition of Vogue, which is scouting for Indian trendsetters for its India special.
Various estimates of India's young fashion business put its size between 50 and 250 million dollars -- a small fraction of the country's 12-billion-dollar domestic textile industry.
A study released last month by industry body ASSOCHAM estimated that the fashion sector could grow tenfold in the next five years. "Indians have begun to understand luxury. They are now willing to spend on luxury," said Valaya.