Wish we could pull off all looks from Game of Thrones: Shantanu & Nikhil in an exclusive chat following their LFW finale

Shantanu & Nikhil’s LFW collection, Recruit, displays a celebratory confluence of opposites that keep their India Story relevant in an age of non-binaries

Rebecca Vargese Published :  08th February 2019 03:57 PM   |   Published :   |  08th February 2019 03:57 PM
Shantanu & Nikhil Recruit

Shantanu & Nikhil Recruit

The quintessential Shantanu & Nikhil (S&N) design is never bound by the confines of gender. Granted, the designers have an affinity for what one might consider male contours. But these silhouettes are always tempered by subtle simplicities like the detailing — emphasising on sensuality as opposed to power dressing—that keeps S&N as relevant today as when the brand launched almost 18 years ago, supported by their celebrity women clientele base that includes powerhouses like Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte. It is fitting then, that the Shantanu & Nikhil closing showcase for Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort ’19, Recruit, which focused on the emancipated woman, debuted at the heritage Sophia College for Women with Kareena Kapoor Khan as the showstopper. As the designers soak in the high of their first ever fashion week finale, a feeling that they describe as ‘almost being reborn into the world of fashion’, we catch up with the pair for an exclusive chat on how fashion can negate predefined gender roles, the S&N India Story and a rapid-fire session. 

Your journey towards creating non-binary clothing...

The Shantanu & Nikhil couture creations stray away from traditional and constructed design notions. When we designed the drape kurta for men, we realised that men required voluminous elements rather than just structured aspects in their ensembles. This thought led to the creation of the signature Shantanu & Nikhil Drape Kurta for men in 2016. Our couture creations for men have drapes, colour panelling and details that are considered effeminate and our female ensembles have over-sized shoulders, band collars and structured silhouettes that are usually not adorned by women. This collection made us think about what the future generations would want to emulate. Whether it was the design culmination or exploring the emotive aspects of young Indians, it gave us a deeper insight into how gender binaries are absolutely redundant. 

Tell us about Recruit and the design process.

This season, we highlight the evolution that has led to the emancipation of the Millennial Indian woman; feelings that commence from the nostalgia of the Independence (A/W ’18) era. The ensembles carry forward the S&N anti-trend phenomenon through powerful silhouettes that have been reworked into exaggerated drapes with dramatic mesh overlays, in addition to our edgy take on traditional skirts and oversized capes accessorised with eclectic medallion adornments, silk tassels and intricate gold embroidery. We also have been known for our edgy tonal mood board, however, for the SR’19 collection, we used red as the primary colour since the line focuses on the emotions that have led to the empowerment of the modern Indian woman.

One item no one should wear 

A Badly Fitted Shirt

A look you wish you could pull off

All the looks from Game of Thrones

What do you prefer, bricks or clicks?

We believe in experiential Couture, so bricks

What do you feel about the fashion industry?

Fast-Paced Evolution

What about the use of the medallions? Are they a connecting thread between Independence (A/W ’18) and Recruit?

All our collections that carry forward the Shantanu & Nikhil India Story have elements that connect to each other. Medallions are an important element of our anti-trend couture story-telling and each medallion resonates with a particular era of India. The medallions of Independence were more military and represented authority that the Indians were gaining control of. The medallions of Recruit continue from the gained authority and replicate astute glory with ornate details of leather and metals.

Why champion the anti-trend cause?

Since we aim to create eclectic design creations, our design philosophy strays away from the trends that are forecasted for the season. This furthers our androgynous stance on couture and makes us create what inspires us the most. 

Evolving idea of couture...

Indian couture creations no longer serve the ceremonial market segment exclusively but aid the creation of edgy ensembles as the wearers are more adapting to experimentation now. Consumers do not want to only purchase clothes from the hangers, they want to live the experiences through the outfits which is why story-telling is an important aspect of couture now.