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DAY three of the ongoing Spring-Summer 17 edition of Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) packed in a plump schedule with 12 designer labels showcasing their take on summer. Here’s what caught our attention:

Leather Fetish

Known for their flirty frills and flouncy skirts, it came as a bit of a surprise that designer duo Gauri and Nainika Karan decided to go extreme for their Spring-Summer 2017 collection. The duo collaborated with New-York based designer label Zana Bayne to pair their gowns and dresses with leather body harnesses, waist cinching belts and body cages. Zana Bayne calls itself a “Post-fetish leather brand” and is steered by the team of Zana Bayne and Todd Pendu. The ox-blood leather accessories added more than a dash of drama to the soft, fluid silhouettes in the collection.Animal Instinct

It was all about asserting oneself in a feral, leader of the pack kind of way for Huemn. The design label by Pranav Mishra and Shyma Shetty, made a strong statement on the ramp sending out ensembles that screamed for attention — be it the fire designs, bold quotes or animal motifs like the gorilla face incorporated in the line of separates. In the designers’ own words: The collection was influenced by the socio-economic and political ambience of current times. Keeping sporty luxe in mind, the collection brought in sweatshirts, tartan sweat pants, A-line dresses and a new line of clutches. Also making a punk-Bohemian statement in her signature style using animal motifs and stripes was Ragini Ahuja of the label Ikai. We liked the way she used Chanderi and silk, in the relaxed silhouettes.

Male Point

Breezy kaftans and bareback dresses have been the mainstay of designer Malini Ramani’s work. For summer, the designer debuted her first menswear collection. This collection was all about relaxed fits and lounge wear. Think slouchy yoga pants, loose fit tees with Batik prints and track pants in tones of grey, ivory and black. The designer roped in her friends — writer, producer and director Mozez Singh and entrepreneur and model Daljit Sean Singh to walk the ramp and they did, with a lot of swagger.

Pyjama Party

Looks like it will soon be okay to parade to a party in one’s pyjamas if designer Sanchita Ajjampur has her way. The opening ensembles from her collection “Tropical Garden” saw models wearing jazzed up night-suits. Given her floral theme, she played with cacti motifs and quintessential nightwear piping on the edges. The pastel hues of the nightwear as outerwear in a silken sheen completed the look.
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New Delhi: The 28th edition of Amazon India Fashion Week is the last of its India Modern theme. The five-day fashion extravaganza closed with a never-seen-before Guru-Shishya presentation by designers JJ Valaya and Alpana-Neeraj.

According to the designer, there are three main factors that make his presentation a class apart. “The major underlying factor is the umbrella being India Modern Festive which is the spirit of the season, then the guru-shishya theme which is happening for the first time followed by the inspiration of the collection”, said the designer while talking to Inspired by the Ranas of Kutch, the courtiers brought alive a first ever master and disciple show putting together ensembles using traditional motifs. When asked about the take-away trends from his collection, the designer said, “Metallic, which is also a constant in our show is a hot trend. They’re going to be a huge trend this season and we’ve tried to make it as classic as possible”.

Describing a quintessential Valaya woman, he said, “She’s a royal nomad just like me. I think I’m a nomad but definitely a royal one. All the women and men, who love to travel but they always do it in style”.

The designer also emphasized on how he has working with menswear since the beginning of his career and also that 40% of his revenue is generated from menswear, which is an inspiration enough for young designers to experiment with men’s clothing. While talking about why he didn’t choose a Bollywood celebrity to turn showstopper for him, he said, “Showstoppers are the clothes. When you do a magnum opus, the thought of a show stopper doesn’t even cross your mind”.

Expressing his elation over the revival of Indian handlooms, he said he’s glad it’s finally happening. “Thank god it’s happening! The last couple of years have been a whole revival and there’s a back-to-India sentient which is coming to the fashion world. I’ve been supporting it from day 1 as we’re blessed to be here. We’ve a huge resource of inspiration of art and craft that we keep ignoring. So, I’m glad that this little bit of gora-hangover is kind of being shaken off”.

The fashion event saw a plethora of designers including the likes of Anita Dongre, Anavila, Samant Chauhan, Rina Dhaka, Shruti Sancheti, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Malini Ramani and Masaba.
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India is a country of interesting, searing contradictions. For instance, a highly successful Bollywood film, ‘Pink’ recently highlighted the significance of sexual consent and sought to discourage people from judging women based on their personal choices. Yet many TV shows contrast starkly with this positive message. One popular daytime culinary program pits mothers and daughters-in-law against each other to see whose cooking skills are more preferred by the “man of the house.” All the drama happens at the expense of perpetuating outdated gender stereotypes. Such  polarities are mirrored within Indian fashion, too. High end designers including Ritu Kumar and Rohit Bal regularly infuse feminist themes into their collections. However, many of these designers’ “showstoppers” — the word used to describe celebrities taking part in a runway show to garner more attention— have publicly disassociated themselves from feminism. Top Bollywood actor and model, Lisa Haydon recently stated she didn’t want to be termed a “career feminist” and that feminism is just an “overused term.” Haydon is one of many Indian actors and models who have advocated the concept of feminism by being part of a progressive, western-influenced designer show but still expressed disdain for the term. It can be confusing for ordinary women to decipher what the message coming from fashion actually is.

Shefalee Vasudev, Fashion Editor at Indian business daily, Mint and former Editor at marie claire India reported that notwithstanding the number of designers trying to create fashion around “strong and independent women”, the fledgling industry is struggling to make serious money. Traditional values rule. “Wedding couture is the most commercially successful part of Indian fashion. It drives wish and fantasy, aspiration and expenditure,” said Vasudev, adding that even the most forward thinking designers must supplement their collections with this kind of clothing to stay afloat. “How can a country or an industry that is so completely overwhelmed by turning the woman into an obedient bride and so tied with conspicuous consumption, including seriously expensive jewelry and feasts where ritualism dominates individualism–really be supportive of the idea of feminism?” She asked.

The idea of feminism is not entirely novel in India and the fashion and textile industry have had a noticeable impact in bringing discussion on it to the national table. For example, a recent campaign video by Nike highlighted the growing participation of female athletes in Indian sports – a recognition typically reserved for men. The ad campaign immediately went viral, receiving a positive response. Likewise, a powerful short film by Vogue India featured 99 women from a range of vocations. It emphasized that a woman’s choices should be her own and free from any judgment. Since then, the video has generated over 10 million views on Youtube. Furthermore, young Indian designers such as Kallol Dutta and Aneeth Arora have consistently challenged the objectified idea of “slim and sexy.” Yet despite all the positive activity around feminism, the theme still struggles to be a brand USP in India. Vidhi Purohit, co-founder of Ease, an upcoming Mumbai-based womenswear brand, changed her entire lineup from minimal and easy western silhouettes –aimed at making comfort clothing for women — to ethnic and bridal wear within the first few months of starting up. The reason? “No one wants to buy it” claimed Purohit. “We tried it but that kind of female empowerment strategy has no money in it.” Economic squeezing aside, fashion remains a great platform for creating a dialogue said Bandana Tewari, Fashion Features Director at Vogue India, “Fashion is fundamentally the industry of costume within a sociological context. Feminism is the state of policy and governance of half of the population of the world. Are they related? Absolutely, because fashion is an industry that thrives on women, whether they are consumers or image-makers.”
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Gone are the days when Indian brides went for lehengas that weighed them down with their heavy embellishment. The modern day bride prefers more monotone looks with lighter fabrics, say experts.

Designer Shubika from brand Papa Don’t Preach recently showcased her designs at the 18th edition of Bridal Asia. She says that nowadays there are different kinds of bridal preferences.

“I don’t think that there is just one type of a bride. One needs to dress according to their personality, irrespective of the trends. If someone is a vibrant, outgoing person, then a colourful, fun, over the top outfit will only do justice, and vice-versa,” Shubika told IANS.“However one can keep the styling, make-up, hair minimalistic if the outfit is over the top as the natural look is in and is timeless,” she added.

Designer Ridhi Mehra, who also participated at Bridal Asia, feels the same.

“I totally believe it is. I feel a bride should be minimal but that doesn’t mean going super light. There is a very thin line between minimal and underdressed,” Mehra told IANS and added that the monotone look and pastel colours with pop embroideries make for a perfect fit.

“People are willing to experiment with lighter colours as well. Prints have become a huge trend this season. Brides are opting for lighter, fun pieces, that can be worn multiple times and different occasions. They are willing to experiment with lighter colours as well as darker colours, rather than going for all brighter hues,” said Mehra.

However, red and maroon still make for an obvious choice for brides, they said.

“These colours (red and maroon) will never go out of fashion. On their main wedding day, a girl values and cherishes feeling like an Indian bride. These colours will never go out of fashion for Indian brides,” said Shubika.

Choosing a right accessory is also important.

“Waist belts and kamarband to hold the dupatta and sarees on to the tiny Indian waists will always be my favourite accessories for an Indian bride,” said Shubika.
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As fashion editors pull rank on bloggers, Sunday Times finds out why front-row politics has heated up

Floral prints and bralettes were not the only things making headlines at the recently concluded Milan Fashion Week. The breaking news from the fashion mecca was the turf war between fashion editors and bloggers. The tension came out in the open when four editors from the US edition of Vogue launched a scathing attack on bloggers, calling them "pathetic" and "desperate" people who "change head-to-toe paid-to-wear outfits every hour".

Back home too, the growing influence of bloggers has riled the old guard. Dimpy Kapur, who blogs at Delhistyle, says it's easy to figure out the reason for the resentment. "Bloggers are encroaching into their space, so they will feel hurt." Remembering her early days as a blogger in 2012, Kapur says she faced discrimination from established journalists and editors. "And the attacks were personal...I had come from London, a platinum blonde, it was difficult to find my groove," says Kapur who has 48.1k followers on Instagram. Today with more than 50,000 page views per month for her blog, Kapur is wooed by many designers.

For bloggers, the views and likes translate into hard cash. Product placement in blogs can cost between Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000, depending on page views and personal credibility of the blogger. Fifty thousand page views per month can help a blogger command Rs 30,000 for just attending an event, and up to a lakh or more, for a write-up. For many print journalists, that's a month's salary.

In September last year, Mumbai-based lifestyle columnist Namrata Zakaria wrote a scathing piece on bloggers. "Successful bloggers have built their businesses such that you have to pay them to attend your show or event, to write about it on their blogs, and promote you via their tweets. These entrepreneurs charge you per tweet. Do you get the news you want or do they get you by your eyeballs?" Zakaria wrote in Mumbai Mirror.

Shefalee Vasudev, fashion editor Mint and author of 'The Powder Room: The Untold Story of Indian Fashion', makes a similar point when she asks how a blogger can objectively review a fashion show when he/she turns up for the show wearing clothes gifted by the designer. "Fashion designers ?may be tempted to pander to a blogger who has been writing for ?a few months just as much as they will to a senior editor ?as fashion show publicity ??has mutated into a different beast — dependent on Instagram posts and tweets. ?

With their growing power, bloggers have invaded fashion's most sacred frontier — the front row. "Five years ago, the front row in the media enclosure would be occupied only by print editors, but now there are at least one or two bloggers seated in the front," says an event manager associated with the FDCI's India Fashion Week.

Apart from the politics of the front row, bloggers say editors feel threatened because fashion is no longer their exclusive domain. "International bloggers, like Susie Lau of Style Bubble, are flown around the world for events and shoots. Marc Jacobs named a bag after BryanBoy, the famous Filipino blogger," says blogger Rasna Bhasin. However, she adds that there's enough space for both. Bhasin blogs and also has a job with a fashion magazine in Delhi.

She says she doesn't earn from her blog, which gets 60,000 page views per month, but brands seek her out for product promotion because of her popularity. She recently posted a photo shoot with a new Gucci bag, and wrote a glowing review of the product.

While bloggers TOI spoke to insisted they do honest reviews, a quick scan of some recent posts were full of effusive praise for the brand being showcased.

While they are growing in number, Vasudev says she hasn't been able to find a single blogger from India whose views can be called influential or transformational. Many will agree with her, but fashion commentator and author Kanika Gahlaut offers a different view. She argues that magazine editors, like bloggers, are fashion victims. "I find it odd that American Vogue editors are now complaining, when they are the ones who started this trend of promoting designers at all costs...and not looking beyond Prada and Gucci," says Gahlaut.
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Business of fashion has its eyes set on spring/summer 2017. Today, Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) commences in the Capital, with 110 designers ready with their collections. Organised by Fashion Design Council of India, and in its 28th edition, the fashion week returns to NSIC grounds. Here are some highlights from the event, which is on till Sunday.

Spring spells florals: While Rina Dhaka’s creations are a window to vintage florals, Ashima-Leena’s Romance of The Florals, has inspiration inherent in its name. Designer Samant Chauhan, Mandira Wirk and Payal Pratap will also have florals embody the spring spirit.

Menswear gets attention: Continuing with its aim to draw attention to menswear, fashion week will have the seasoned Ashish N Soni and Rajesh Pratap Singh close the day tomorrow. Interestingly, Malini Ramani’s collection will also feature menswear. With a group show called Men in Fashion, designers Pawan Sachdeva, Dhruv Vaish and Sahil Aneja will also aim to make their mark.

Focus on handloom: Apart from a 16-designer strong opening show dedicated to Chanderi, hand-crafted fabrics and detailing will be part of other shows too. Jamdani weaves feature in Urvashi Kaur’s collection, while Abraham-Thakore pay a tribute to hand-spun Khadi. Gaurav Jai Gupta is also expected to use indigenous weaves in his collection, Pingala, while Anavila continues with her organic love for linen.

History as reference: Kavita Bhartia finds inspiration in Turkey, drawing references from iznik pottery. Also tapping into history, Hemant-Nandita’s creations include Victorian references. Amit Aggarwal’s collection sees him translating his 80s childhood onto the ramp. Masaba Gupta’s all-gold and bell-bottomed silhouettes might also be up for some #throwback feels.

Guru-Shishya finale: The idea is to celebrate the mutual evolution of the mentor and his student. JJ Valaya and shishya Alpana (with partner Neeraj) will close the fashion week around this theme. Valaya’s collection, Ranas of Kachchh, is a blend of influences from the Ranas of Nepal and the nomads of Kachchh.16 designers to pay a tribute to chanderi

After a focus on Benarasi weave, a tribute to Chanderi will comprise the opening show today. Those who will interpret the fabric in their signature way include designers Aneeth Arora, Anita Dongre, Atsu Sekhose, Divyam Mehta, Gaurav Jai Gupta, Ragini Ahuja, Joy Mitra, Karishma Shahani, Paromita Banerjee, Payal Pratap, Pratima Pandey, Ruchika Sachdev, Samant Chauhan, Sanjay Garg, Yogesh Chaudhary and Vaishali S.
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The script has become familiar by now, so no one was surprised when Aalishan Pakistan, the Indo-Pak fashion and lifestyle trade fair, was cancelled last week “due to the current situations between India and Pakistan”.

South Delhi housewife Sabeena Mehta was, however, somewhat disappointed. “I’d picked up some really nice suit pieces at the last fair. In fact, I went twice – the first time my mother wasn’t with me, but after she saw what I had bought she too wanted to come. I’m a nationalist Indian and Pakistan has gone a bit too far this time in Uri. But there’s something about Pakistani fashion that’s much smarter than what you get in India.” That Mehta isn’t the only one to think so was evident from the crowds that thronged the last edition of the fair held in 2014. According to TDAP (Trade Development Authority of Pakistan), which organised the fair with FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry), Aalishan Pakistan, over four days in mid-September, attracted 500,000 and did business of $15 million, with deals worth another $20-25 million signed.

“There’s not much difference. But yes, Pakistan is known for its fine lawn. Their cuts are better, more fashionable,” says Rashima Singh, a Delhi-based designer who runs the label, Ministry of Design, with her mother Winky.

The Pakistanis have the exact opposite to say. Karachi-based Huma Nassr, who has been running a boutique called Braahti in the capital’s Greater Kailash-I for many years now (perhaps the only solo Pakistani fashion store in India), feels Pakistani women beat their sisters across India hands down when it comes to dressing. As a Pakistani participant at Shaan-e-Pakistan, an “exhibition” of India-Pakistan designers that Nassr organises, told me last year, laughing as she looked at my a little-worn top-trousers, “Maaf karna, I don’t mean to give offence, but Pakistani women won’t even go to the market dressed in what most Indian wear to office!”

Like with many other things between India and Pakistan, that’s a hard issue to resolve, but what’s undoubtedly true is that in the last few years, Pakistani fashion has flooded the Indian market. As Mehta reminds me, “exhibitions” of Pakistani suits have been happening for many years now. But you now have permanent stores to buy Pakistani designerwear. Delhi’s popular Lajpat Nagar market has the very popular The Cotton Lawn Shop, which stocks Gul Ahmed, Sana Safinaz, Saadia Asad, etc. At the higher end, there’s the PFDC (Pakistan Fashion Design Council) outlet in South Extension-1 that’s been there since 2012. Last year, well-known textiles manufacturer OCM tied up with Sana Safinaz to launch the designer under its label.

But as both designers and exhibitors reveal, India-Pakistan trade is never easy. Nassr is now waiting to put up the third edition of Shaan-e-Pakistan, re-named Kya Dilli Kya Lahore. She’s already got big names like Deepak Parvani and Bibi Russell (the Bangladeshi designer), but given the uncertainty, pushed it to January 2017. “Inshaallah, this current situation will have eased by then,” she says.
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The Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) is all set to celebrate the charm of the chanderi fabric at the opening show of the upcoming Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) Spring Summer 2017.

For the opening show, 16 designers will come together to create four ensembles each, to encourage designers to incorporate chanderi into their lexicon and boost the languishing crafts sector.The Scindia family of Gwalior has been supporting chanderi weaver clusters for decades and have been instrumental in their upliftment. Encouraged by their contribution, FDCI has joined forces to do their bit to bring the focus on to the fabric.

The designers of the project are: Aneeth Arora, Anita Dongre, Atsu Sekhose, Divyam Mehta, Gaurav Jai Gupta, IKAI by Ragini Ahuja, Joy Mitra, Ka-Sha by Karishma Shahani, Paromita Banerjee, Payal Pratap, Pratima Pandey, Ruchika Sachdev, Samant Chauhan, Sanjay Garg, Surendri by Yogesh Chaudhary and Vaishali S.

FDCI president Sunil Sethi said: “The recent months have witnessed delightful movements in the handloom sector. Upliftment of crafts has been our motto at the FDCI. Through this project, we will increase the usage of chanderi making it the fabric of the moment.

“In the past, FDCI has made earnest attempts to revive khadi as well as the Banarasi weave. This year, we are looking to establish chanderi belt as the central craft tourism destination in India.”

In total, 110 designers — on the runway and stall area — are taking part in the event. The grand finale will have a first ever guru-shishya (Master and Disciple) presentation by designers JJ Valaya and Alpana-Neeraj, while the theme of the entire gala is ‘India Modern Festive’.
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For Pune-based Prineet Grewal, it was a matter of great pride as she was crowned the winner of the beauty pageant Mrs India Earth 2016. The 29-year-old was crowned at a gala ceremony amid members of the fashion industry.

Mrs India Earth pageant celebrates the spirit of womanhood and gives a platform to married women. The winner of the three-day long beauty pageant was announced at a hotel in Dwarka recently. The first and second runners-up were Paris Keswani and Roshini Hassan, respectively, according to a statement from the organisers.

The beauty pageant follows a motto of ‘Beauty with Cause’. The event gave every contestant selected environmental tasks, and over 15,000 saplings were planted in the country and abroad this year. According to the motto of the pageant, it is a hope that winners will turn into a vehicle for self-awareness and advancement of social appreciation.Vinay Yadawa, Director, Mrs India Earth, said: “With the pageant, we want to spread awareness as well as empower them (the women).”

The event is held annually to celebrate women who embody “Beauty, Talent, Intelligence and Compassion. The Indian Woman in her lifetime assumes numerous significant parts that make her crucial. She in the line of Entrepreneurship consider Business Enterprises, Operate them, Undertake Risks and handle Economic Uncertainties required in maintaining a Business Enterprise”, reads the mission statement of the pageant.
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