Here's a look at what the Lakmé Fashion Week’s Gen Next designers have in store for their runway debut
Sustainability. Inclusivity. Gender neutrality. Indigenous textile revival. Buzzwords like these have shaped the narrative of most fashion week presentations globally. As the new decade sees the industry open up to new possibilities, the 29th batch of Lakme’s Gen Next aims to look beyond these confines. They revisit their core values, creating collections that define their calling in the industry and are an expression of who they are and what they feel. Ahead of their Summer/Resort’ 20 debut, we talk to these four designers about how their experiences have shaped their sensibilities and if the world of fashion is enough to satisfy them creatively.
ALL2DEFY | Ananya Modi Jain
Bold and vibrant prints and witty graphics and fonts that defy stereotypes and question social constructs underline Ananya Modi Jain’s brand ALL2DEFY. “Streetstyle is my preferred means of expression, especially since it is inspired by a socially conscious generation that is not afraid to talk about issues like gender equality, body positivity and being comfortable in your skin,” says the 26-year-old from New Delhi. Making a strong case for easy-to-wear and relaxed silhouettes (citing the millennial fixation with comfortable fits), Ananya’s LFW collection experiments with streetwear staples — baggy jeans and hooded jackets — with value additions like exaggerated balloon sleeves, tailored shirt sleeves and oversized-wide kimono sleeves. Throwing woven and knit fabrics like cotton, denim, viscose and terry, into the mix, the collection also uses a distinctive hand embroidery crafted with chunky cotton yarn.
C H A N D R I M A | Chandrima Agnihotri
Watching her mother and sisters learn the cross-stitch technique intrigued Chandrima Agnihotri even as a child. Carrying this curiosity into her adulthood, these memories spurred an intrinsic love for traditional Indian craft techniques. So much so, that as a student at NIFT Mumbai, she studied and documented Lambani embroidery. Exploring the possibility of how garments possess the potential to tell a story, the Inspiration Series delves back into and builds upon the point in her life where it all began. “The interest in cross-stitch inspired me to explore the technique and create a collection with my interpretation of the same for a global platform,” shares the 28-year-old, who started her career under the tutelage of Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla and Rohit Bal. For a cross-cultural folk feel, her collection of dresses, jumpsuits, skirts, summer jackets, kurtas and lehengas include the Jat cross-stitch patterns and thread embroidery along with cutwork that resemble European lace.
Akhl | Akhil Nagpal
Akhil Nagpal may have been groomed by some of the industry’s most innovative designers, Amit Aggarwal and Manish Arora. But the Mumbai-based designer’s interest in unique fabrics and textile construction pre-date his stint with the master couturiers, going back to when he was a student at Central Saint Martins in London. “A loom is perhaps one of the most complex tensile structures in the world and I was quite fascinated with how the physics of pulling something tight or setting something loose can be used to make complex designs,” shares the 28-year-old. Expanding on this interest, Akhil devoted hours to research and studying art installations and architecture and over the years built up a vivid mood board of what would finally become his debut collection at Lakmé Fashion Week. “Both, Amit and Manish, taught me how important it was to develop a deeply individualistic and unique palette of materials.” To achieve this his debut collection used three-dimensional zardozi and ari embroidery created from monofilament and glass yarns.
Graine | Mannat Sethi and Harshna Kandhari
An amalgam of their memories and design sensibilities, Mannat Sethi and Harshna Kandhari’s collection takes the nostalgic route, where their favourite sweet — the kaju katli — translates into reflective surface work, layering and linear form on their apparel. “If you ever go to a sweet shop and find these silver pieces in a tray you always want to bring a piece of happiness home,” share the designer duo. Inclined towards creating multiple textural elements in their garments, Graine’s distinct aesthetic is achieved by using zardozi, chikankaari and mukaish tilla work on hand-cut strips of rubber. “Other elements that you will see on the runway are pleats on trousers and dresses, dramatic necklines, double-layered and exaggerated sleeves, drop shoulders and balloon-like tunics paired with