ICW 2018: Reynu Taandon’s Surprise Return And Rohit Bal’s Continued Reign
When you’ve been seeing fashion shows ever since fashion weeks began in the country, all but the most standout of collections fade from memory very quickly. Designers who create memorable shows consistently become your favourites, and others are dismissed with a flick of the wrist…stylists don’t source from them for glossy magazine shoots, and reputed PR companies are wary of working with them for the fear the designers’ taint may rub off on their carefully-cultivated connections with the influential fashion media.
For over nine years, though, one of the country’s top stylists—Gautam Kalra—has quietly worked behind the scenes with Reynu Taandon, a designer who has found herself not always being included in the circle of chic. But what we saw yesterday was a stellar couture collection that deserved every bit of the applause that followed.
Inspired by flowers, Reynu sent out delicate pastel shades that would make any young, modern bride happy. There were flared pants with gota-patti work in filigree patterns, and sequin encrusted blouses that fit perfectly. The finishing of the garments, too, was close to perfect. The temple-inspired arches that formed an embroidery motif on a pink lehenga was refreshing. And Reynu really didn’t need Yami Gautam to walk at the close of her show; the clothes spoke for themselves.
Then came Rohit Bal, whose rendition of his own floral theme—his show was titled Gul-Dastah—made the closing of the India Couture Week memorable. Being who he is, Rohit is the exact opposite of Reynu. He is loved, respected, admired, and feted. And that, strangely enough, puts a similar kind of pressure on him. The pressure to perform is what was common between the two designers who showed yesterday.
With Gul-Dastah, Rohit reminded us again: not only can he withstand the pressure, but use it to create a visceral, emotional experience for the audience. From the first section of ivory-toned anarkalis and lehengas that featured flaming pink flamingoes to the blacks that had oversized florals in both prints and embroideries; this was a winning collection. What was also interesting, though, was that Rohit didn’t use a single dupatta or stole on the models. And it made sense; after all, when each jacket, cape, gown, and lehenga is a work of art—though the fitting of a few pieces was slightly off the mark; mostly the long quilted jackets—you don’t need the romance of a diaphanous chunni to elevate the ensemble. The only other person to capture flowers like Rohit Bal is probably the Dutch photo artist Bas Meeuws, whose Instagram—@basmeeuws—is a must follow.
In all, a good day for Indian haute couture, one that began with a surprise and ended in pure delight.