A round-up of what’s been happening in India and around the world, from The Hindu Weekend desk
Fashion Weeks rising
New York Fashion Week is underway and the fashion world is taking note. Jason Wu, who staged one of the few traditional format runway shows, had models in kaftans and cashmere bras. Choosing contemporary over glamorous for this Spring 2021 collection, his runway on The Spring Studios rooftop in TriBeCa featured at least a 1,000 tropical plants and a little over 30 guests. As the next few days see other designers stream their digital shows and the scene shift to fashion weeks in London, Milan and Paris (ends October 6), we will know for sure if this is a tipping point in fashion. Meanwhile, don’t miss India Couture Week, which begins on Friday (September 18 to 23), featuring 12 designers, from Rahul Mishra and JJ Valaya to Suneet Varma and others. All digital, with everyone in front row seats!
(Left) Outfits by Juliana Garcia Bello of Argentina and (right) Ngoc Ha Thu of Vietnam, winners of the 2020 Redress awards for womenswear and menswear respectively
Deadstock wins at Redress Design Award
Earlier this month, Vietnamese and Argentinian designers topped the Redress Design Awards 2020, the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition. The event by Redress, an environmental NGO, saw 10 finalists showcase their work with upcycling, re-construction and zero-waste techniques on September 3. Juliana Garcia Bello (Argentina) won in the womenswear category for her minimalist aesthetic created from secondhand clothing. Winner of the menswear category, Ngoc Ha Thu (Vietnam), a graduate from the London College for Design and Fashion, created sustainable versions of classic menswear like trucker jackets and painter trousers. Inspired by Sass Brown’s book, Eco Fashion, she has a Facebook page, Vandalism in Vogue. For Bello, the collapse of the La Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh in the same year as her graduation was a turning point.
Runner-up Ruth Weerasinghe from Sri Lanka stood out with her detachable and adaptable garments made of industrial waste material, to explore the context of survival in a bleak future. Laura Krause from Australia had utilitarian hand-knit garments from recycled wool and cotton; Grace Lant from Hong Kong used deadstock materials and natural fibres for her zero-waste collection; and lone male finalist Lowe Tong reconstructed clothing samples and secondhand clothing using zero-waste pattern cutting. Let’s hope next year’s edition sees Indian designers making the cut.
(Left) Director Spike Lee and the Montblanc Meisterstück Maki-e Calligraphy Tribute to Kyoto Fine Craftsmanship Limited Edition 88
Spike Le and Kyoto dreaming
Maker of luxury writing instruments, Montblanc has been busy this season. Three weeks after they launched their What Moves You, Makes You global campaign — featuring filmmaker Spike Lee, who incidentally writes all his scripts by hand, and actor Taron Egerton — they rolled out new launches. Like the Montblanc Heritage Egyptomania, revisiting a 1920s design from the maison. And a new edition of the legendary Meisterstück that unites the centuries-old Chiso design tradition with the Japanese craft of maki-e lacquer. The Meisterstück Maki-e Calligraphy Tribute to Kyoto Fine Craftsmanship Limited Edition 88, has been handcrafted by a Japanese maki-e master using the traditional urushi technique (when objects were lacquered with a resinous tree sap, to protect against moisture and damage). As an homage to the artists of Chiso who developed the design of the writing instrument, a kimono adorned with delicate blossoms is engraved into the handcrafted nib made of Au 750 solid gold. The curved nib with a tip that has a 45° angle, makes it possible to create lines of different thicknesses and is most suited to character languages and sketching.
As for the new campaign, Montblanc CEO Nicolas Baretzki had called it “an evolved expression of our DNA”, adding that they took their cue from shifting priorities and how people have changed the way they work. “Being a ‘mark maker’ is a different way of thinking. It is no longer about status or reaching the top but it’s about the meaningful, purposeful and enriching journey we take to get there, and the people we impact on our way,” he said. In the video, Spike Lee’s passion for writing from an early age and his connect with Brooklyn come though with the intercutting of classic footage. And if you are curious about his eyewear – it certainly rocks our Zoom life – it’s Berlin-based Veronika Wildgruber’s. You’re welcome.
From Chaitanya Rao’s virtual show
Chaitanya Rao’s digital bride
Chennai-based designer and stylist Chaitanya Rao has had an active lockdown, learning to cook and staying fit with a Korean walking workout he could do in the comfort of his home. The last couple of weeks have seen him busy putting together the final touches on his virtual runway show, featuring a bridal collection designed for pandemic weddings.
“I had a little over a week to get around seven new designs made. We had to work within the constraints of what the karigars could do,” explains the designer. Other garments in the lineup were created just before the lockdown, and he is taking this opportunity to give them a proper showing. Filmed in the lush grounds of the Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield, with six models, the line includes organza saris and silk blouses embellished with floral embroidery and organic cotton jacket lehengas featuring traditional motifs. Then there are the bespoke suits for men, including an Italian silk jacquard tuxedo. For the rest, we will have to wait till the show debuts on his social media platforms. On September 15 at 8.30 pm.
(Left) From Vedika M’s Stripe Series and (right) a Myaraa hat
Joining stripes and hats
With hotels and travel destinations opening up (even as our Covid-19 cases continue to skyrocket) a lot of Indian designers have been highlighting resort wear on their socials. Vedika M Sonthalia’s pret collection from her eponymous label spotlights the stripe. “We created the prints at our in-house textile unit with natural dyes, and used hand brush-painting and block-printing techniques,” says the Kolkata-based designer. The result is a line of midi, short and long dresses, beach-ready cover-ups and structured co-ord sets in a pastel palette. These block-printed and hand-painted pre-stitched saris with geometric patterns begin at ₹19,500. Details: vedikam.com.
Meanwhile, Namrata Lodhi’s fairly new brand is making a case for hats this season. The 52-year-old was inspired by the woven natural grass products of her home state, Madhya Pradesh, and the tools used to create designs on them. The straw boater or wide-brimmed floppy hats can be customised with a name, text or emojis. How’s that for making your accessories talk while social distancing. At ₹2,100, quite a steal. Details: myaraa.com