Lakmé Fashion Week's 31st batch of Gen Next designers give us a peek into their collection for the season

Here's what to expect...

author_img Rashmi Rajagopal Published :  12th March 2021 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  12th March 2021 12:00 AM

The joint fashion week by Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW) and Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) is expected to kick off on March 16. In the run-up to the event, LFW announced the 31st batch of Gen Next designers — a talent discovery platform that has spotted some path breaking innovators in its previous editions. Winners for this year, Kolkata’s Rahul Dasgupta and Delhi-based Wajahat Rather might be from completely different schools of thought but there is a common need to simplify, to go back to their roots and present their design philosophies in relatable ways. Here’s a closer look at what to expect from their collections:

Label Rahul Dasgupta
When you take a look at Rahul Dasgupta’s body of work, you begin to understand why he is one of the two names picked for Lakmé-Fashion Week’s 31st batch of Gen Next designers. Launched in August 2020, the Kolkata-based designer’s self-titled label lays emphasis on maximalist details and innovative surface development. “It’s not even been a year since I launched my label, and it feels great to be chosen as a Gen Next designer,” says Rahul, whose journey so far is one riddled with multi-ple hiccups. “I actually created a collection in 2015 after I grad uated from NIFT. But I didn’t have the money to back it up. So I took a job at a company as a womenswear designer. A few years later, I tried to strike out on my own again, but couldn’t due to various reasons. Then when I was about to open my studio in March last year, the pandemic hit. But I didn’t lose hope and things are finally looking up,” he reveals.

For his debut collection, Rahul took inspiration from the colours of the sea — the waves, the horizon and sea foam. The imagery is rendered through skillful use of the shibori technique, and even the fabrics employed — silk organza and Chanderi silk — are chosen to capture the lightness of water. The exquisite textural quality of the garments is achieved by individually stitching together shibori-dyed cotton dori. “The silhouettes too reflect the increasing volume of waves, starting with clean minimalistic lines and progressing to large, voluminous garments,” explains Rahul. “In the last one year, people’s tastes have transformed. No one wants anything outlandish or avant garde any more. Simplicity is key and that’s exactly what I’m trying to achieve,” he signs off.

Delhi-based Wajahat Rather goes by the motto Design, Nature, Craft or DNC. This finds expression in his label Raffughar, which seeks to champion the craft of the famous darners of Kashmir or raffoogars, whose job is to mend or restore old clothes. Originally from Kashmir, Wajahat who has an MA in Design — Fashion & Textile from Nottingham Trent University, UK, launched his label in 2013. His collection that will be showcased at the fashion week is called Maazi, which he describes as a ‘recollection of memories.’ The vintage paisley motif is used to represent both the past and the future. The latter is shown through what he calls ‘melting’ paisleys. There are also block-printed ‘glitches’ and barcodes, a nod to the digital age we are currently living in.

Silhouettes include traditional firans, jackets, shirts and trousers crafted from handspun and handwoven muslin which are sourced from West Bengal. “As this is about the crafts of Kashmir, the collection sees the use of Kashmiri embroidery too,” shares Wajahat, adding, “The goal of Raffughar is to offer contemporary garments while being rooted to tradition.”