AICW 2015: Is couture still bridal in India?

New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS) The Amazon India Couture Week (AICW) 2015 ended on a grand note on Sunday with some of the country’s finest garment designers showcasing their creativity on the ramp. But the five-day extravaganza left a big question mark about whether the Indian fashion industry will ever go beyond bridal when it comes to couture.

The event, which started on July 29, showcased a wide array of collections from designers through 11 shows. But what primarily sparkled was bridal wear.

While designers admit that the wedding market in India is “huge”, they beg to differ that couture is only about bridal wear.

Varun Bahl, who launched a bespoke wedding company through his show at the event, told IANS: “In India, if you notice the focus on Indian couture pieces, it is usually towards the bridal segment. People tend to purchase higher value outfits, especially customised for themselves mostly for weddings and for niche occasions.

“But, couture is not just limited to bridal wear and even in India that trend is changing.”

Monisha Jaising, who showcased a collection titled ‘The Sailing Bride’ at the fashion gala, has a different take. She believes that the magnitude of India’s wedding industry is the reason why couture is here to stay in the country.

“In India, weddings are a mega industry and the term extravagant instantly springs to mind with this mega industry becoming bigger day by day. Couture is definitely here to stay,” she said.

The fact that couture is becoming serious business in the country was well-exemplified by names such as Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who started the fashion gala on a positive note with his line called Bater.

The ace designer maintained the charm of creating his own definition of couture by mixing the traditional with the modern to make it globally appealing. From saris draped over jackets; short dresses; long maxi dress; skirts and trousers to capes — each garment reflected his design aesthetics.

The amalgam of Mukherjee’s ensembles with the iconic red soles of French footwear designer Christian Louboutin added to the appeal.

International Woolmark Prize-winning designer Rahul Mishra, who made his debut at AICW, too grabbed the eyeballs with his own interpretation of couture on THE second day. The collection, “Tree of Life”, comprised of a blend of Indian and western designs in subtle colours and saw innovative craftsmanship apt for red carpet events both nationally and internationally.

Designers Reynu Taandon and duo Rimple and Harpreet Narula gave more options to the wedding market through their couture line on day four of the fashion extravaganza.

Taandon traced the origins of Mughal Empire through her Persia-influenced collection with actress Richa Chadha walking on the ramp as a showstopper in a maroon and gold heavily embroidered lehenga-choli.

The Bollywood quotient didn’t end just there. Kangana Ranaut walked for Manav Gangwani, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan stunned the crowd as Manish Malhotra’s showstopper, and the svelte and lovely Shilpa Shetty walked the ramp for Rimple and Harpreet Narula in a heavily embroidered gold lehenga-choli, aptly personifying a modern bride.

Sunil Sethi, president of AICW’s organising body Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), said: “In India, since weddings are very big, our couture is used there also, and now look at the experiments in the traditional lehenga.”

Stressing on why couture is no longer synonymous with bridal wear, he said: “Frankly, of course, I will say that some of our products may be for bridal market, but it is still made especially for that, so we are still calling it couture.”

Leaving aside the argument of bridal and couture in India, AICW witnessed some fine creations that can enthrall fashionistas globally. Whether it is Anju Modi’s ‘Kashish’ collection for which she drew inspiration from Persia or Manish Malhotra’s ‘The Empress Story’ that was influenced by his passion for reviving centuries-old Indian craftsmanship.

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