Of Cuts, Challenges… And Cotton!
The chance to show at Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week and the prize money of Rs One million to start their own fashion line brought out the country’s best young designers to compete in Cotton Council International’s (CCI) Let’s Design 5.Through Let’s Design CCI has brought new life to a classic fibre. Cotton has been showcased with a variety of fabrics, looks and applications – an initiative that encourages future design leaders to illustrate the versatility of 100 per cent cotton fabric, contributing to the backbone of the Indian textile industry.
The pan-India initiative gives aspiring designers an opportunity to showcase their talent and creativity with the country’s most important textile fibre: cotton. This year Let’s Design 5 soared to new heights with the support of FDCI (Fashion Design Council of India), which has embarked on various path-breaking initiatives to cultivate and nurture designers, with the goal of making Indian fashion global. Staying true to this principle, FDCI joined hands with CCI to encourage nascent talent and develop the use of cotton by the fashion industry in creative ways.
Sachit Bhatia of CCI emphasises, “It started as a platform to showcase the creativity of up and coming designers in cotton which has now turned into India’s biggest design revolution showcasing not just the creativity of young minds in design but artistic visions in the most iconic fabric – cotton. It’s amazing to see the competition grow every season not just in numbers but also in talent and quality.”
In this edition, the contestants’ journey began back in December when CCI announced the fifth season of Let’s Design. Contestants were asked to interpret their favourite fashion capital (New York, London, Paris, Milan or Tokyo) in a single garment. From over 2,000 submissions, 88 were invited to the regional rounds. A talented 12, continued the journey in New Delhi where they competed in a series of design challenges that tested their creativity, technical skills and ‘real world’ product marketing sensibilities. The time and resource parameters of each challenge became increasingly difficult each round. The challenges were created specifically to illustrate versatility of 100 percent cotton fabric in fashion. Leading fashion designers Payal Jain, David Abraham and Rina Dhaka evaluated their designs, and offered them guidance and advice.
Overwhelmed with their creativity and innovation, the judges could not select just one winner. Two winning designers will showcase their talents at India Fashion Week with Spring/Summer 2014 collections, and share the Rs One million prize money.
Verve’s fashion director and jury member, Nisha Jhangiani, said, “The platform that Let’s Design provides has become a fashion force to reckon with. Contestants are upping their game year after year, and this time around, it was impossible for us to select a sole winner for Season 5. Vedangi’s creative theme interpretation and Harjosh’s impressive constructions skills wowed us equally.”
Designer and jury member Rina Dhaka said she was impressed with the winning designers’ innovative use of cotton and execution of the assigned tasks.
“Cotton is rich, earthy, glamorous, comfortable, natural and fashionable,” Jain said. “It can be used in many different ways, while maintaining the basic essence of nature. Natural fibres provide a huge spectrum of possibilities to designers and can really make them push their creative boundaries.”
Fellow designer and jury member David Abraham echoed these sentiments. “Cotton is the natural choice for Indian fashion,” he said. “It breathes, it feels wonderful and it looks absolutely terrific.”
Actor Aditi Rao Hydari said she was excited to see so much creativity and sophistication in cotton and encouraged more designers to work with cotton. “It’s great to know that I can be fashionable and comfortable at the same time while wearing cotton,” she said.
Congratulating the top five designers, Sunil Sethi, president, FDCI, remarked he was overwhelmed with the created ensembles. “On behalf of FDCI, it will be my pleasure to have the joint winners showcasing their collections at the Spring/Summer 2014 edition of Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week,” he said.
So, let the play in cotton continue – on and off the ramp!
Harjosh Singh Goraya
“It was a lot of hard work….”
Harjosh Singh Goraya describes his work as influenced by discreet sexuality and masculine tailoring. Inspired by the contradictions between sartorial conservatism and radical modernism his designs combine impeccable tailoring with modern lines. With an appreciation for fabric construction he knows when to keep it simple and when to allow his imagination run wild. And his deep understanding of garment construction is quickly evident.
Cotton proved to be the ideal medium for ‘Josh’ to express his creative visions. The variety of fabrics available for the challenges allowed him to explore a variety of construction techniques.
“It was a lot of hard work but this competition was a great way to get exposure and experience as a designer, as well as learn a lot about cotton,” Goraya said. The “little black dress” challenge brought out the couturier in him. The well-structured bodice was given a modern touch with a unique neckline and flowing side panels for an added touch of femininity.
The denim challenge also seemed to speak directly to Josh’s design sensibilities. His ensemble effortlessly combined masculine lines with a soft, feminine silhouette. A traditionally rugged fabric was given a new lease on life in this sexy and elegant ensemble.
The final challenge gave Josh the freedom to experiment with his love for construction techniques. A neutral palette was used to showcase a variety of cotton fabric types. Josh skilfully used his tailoring skills to create texture and volume to enhance simpler fabrics and exercised calculated restraint to showcase more intricate weaves.
“I enjoyed being challenged….”
With a flare for draping, Vedangi Agarwal’s design philosophy is to create clothes that are chic, elegant and lady-like. Taking design inspiration from Coco Chanel, she wants her clothes to not only be aesthetically appealing, but also accessible to the masses.
The first challenge seemed to be made just for Agarwal. “There are many more types of cotton fabric than I thought. I enjoyed being challenged to break conventional thinking about cotton applications and use these fabrics in unexpected ways,” added Agarwal. Chanel’s iconic ‘little black dress’ was to be reinvented. Agarwal captured the essence of the ‘little black dress’ with simple and classic lines which accentuated the female form. Both sexy and modest at the same time, it was a timeless update to a classic look.
Agarwal’s denim ensemble may have been straight off the ramps of Paris. The Chanel influences were clearly visible in this sophisticated outfit. Denim shed its rough and tumble image in a chic ensemble suitable for the office, a dinner with friends or an evening out on the town.
The designer’s final design challenge showed her more whimsical and romantic side. Old world crochets were given a modern look in this Victorian inspired outfit.
Showing her mature design sensibilities she let the fabric be the star of this show in her prêt garment. Simplifying the garment clearly does not mean sacrificing style.
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