The fashion trends coming off the ramp for the next season are taking the previous autumn-winter '06 season look a bit further. The dress as a silhouette gets only bigger this season—the balloon skirt is the new must-have, and after the high altitudes of the last season the waistline is now south bound. "The over-all feel for the season is soft and romantic. Bling and over-the-top fashion is out,'' says designer Rohit Gandhi who along with Rahul Khanna run the pret label, Cue. Their collection for the Fashion Week is an ode to childhood. Natural fabrics with natural vegetable dyes, unstructured silhouettes teamed with structured garments, and various improvisations of the shirt are the highlights of their collection, which is strongly positioned for the pret market.
Namrata Joshipura's Metro collection too promises to woo the ready-to-wear segment. Her line is inspired by working women in world metros like New Delhi and New York. Dropped waists, ribbed hems, pleated shorts, jackets in chiffon and soft silks are her offerings for the season. "I feel that today's professional world has given a masculine edge to our existence so I wanted my collection to bring back the romance and feminine appeal," says Namrata.
While her collection is rooted in the present, various other designers like Ranna Gill, Rajesh Pratap and J.J. Valaya are seeking inspiration from past cultures. Ranna's Fashion Week line is a great tribute to the distinctive Ikat prints of Central Asia. Her Ikat jerseys and dresses will be something new on the Indian ramp. Mother Teresa becomes the (unlikely) muse for Valaya's "the flower of Balkans" collection. Mother Teresa was from Albania and since Teresa means a flower, hence, the flower motif is prominent in Valaya's collection. He has used traditional Albanian crafts like chord work and metal embroidery, and the story of the collection—the journey of the human soul from materialism to spiritualism—is told through colours that have been desaturated to convey the message.
Rajesh Pratap, known for his shy colour palette, embraces colours like never before and his fashion week collection has references to the work of an American painter, Henry Darger. He has used a lot of volume, embroidery, soft transparent fabrics for his dresses. "I was bored of minimalism,'' confesses Pratap. It is interesting to note that his inspiration, Darger, also celebrates the girl child—his water colours show armies of little girls, with guns in hand, fighting evil forces.
Talking about colours brings us to designer Manish Arora. The non-conformist, who throws trends out of the window, is toeing the line this season. Like his colleagues, Manish's is a journey back to nature. His collection, titled "Life is beautiful" sounds suspiciously like John Galliano's hugely successful spring-summer '06 collection called "Everything is beautiful" that had real people—old women, twins, dancers, midgets—walking the ramp for him. Wendell Rodrick had done a similar show during the 2004 India fashion week. Manish, who will be opening the show, says that despite everything around us going so wrong, life still continues to be beautiful. His collection is rife with nature motifs like birds, bees and leaves. Lot of applique has been used in a manner that makes it look like a print. He uses rich fabrics like silk chiffon, cotton silks, brocade, jacquard silk for dresses, skirts, shorts and capes. Nature is the muse for designers Shantanu-Nikhil as well, who flirt with exotic botanical prints and the leaf motif.
So where exactly is all the glitter? To jazz up Fashion Week, the Mumbai designers will show garments dripping with glamour and glitz. After wooing aunties across the nation with those colourful net saris in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, designer Manish Malhotra promises a rocking finale to the week by flexing his Bollywood muscles with clothes that celebrate sensuality. Shane and Falguni Peacock add to Fashion Week's glamour quotient with seductive garments in resplendent fabrics, and cuts that highlight shapely bosoms and waists.