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Menswear at the Lakme Fashion Week makes a strong statement

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Menswear at the Lakme Fashion Week makes a strong statement

Menswear embraced maximalism with an impressive display of structure, shapes and embellishment at the Lakmé Fashion Week x FDCI

Menswear embraced maximalism with an impressive display of structure, shapes and embellishment at the Lakmé Fashion Week x FDCI

Jio World Centre, the massive convention space which hosted the recently concluded six-day Lakmé Fashion Week, scores high on infrastructure and location, although I found it a tad sterile and conference-like for an event driven by creativity and fashion. The first major fashion week in Mumbai after the pandemic, however, spells a major shift from the previous fashion weeks on account of socio-cultural talking points such as gender-fluid silhouettes, plus-sized models and diverse skin tones, which were not reduced to mere tokenism. Joining the sustainability club this year were labels like Pieux, Swatti Kapoor and Studio Medium. In terms of menswear too, the season was a very strong one.

High on production

Amit Aggarwal, Gaurav Gupta, Satya Paul and Rajesh Pratap Singh were edgy in terms of set design, music and choreography. As for the collections, established designers like Gaurav Gupta, Shantnu & Nikhil, SVA by Sonam & Paras Modi, Payal Singhal and Anushre displayed consistency in terms of tailoring and cuts. A host of emerging menswear designers like Delhi-based Son of a Noble (SNOB), Khanijo and Noida-based Countrymade, hit it out of the park with their unique take on kurtas blended with athleisure.

A model showcasing designer Shyamal Bhumika’s design

A model showcasing designer Shyamal Bhumika’s design
| Photo Credit: Lakme Fashion Week/ Special Arrangement

We witnessed an impressive display of structure, shapes and embellishments as well. Celebrity stylist Akshay Tyagi says, “This season, Indian menswear has made a strong statement. It goes beyond the standard shirt, pant, shorts look. Longer silhouettes, cropped, fitted, oversized… literally everything has been represented.”

Veteran designer Rajesh Pratap Singh brought the curtains down on the season with his finale, which was an ode to the French opera Lakmé. His highly constructed collection of his signature pleats, stainless steel elements paired with khadi and more.

Goodbye, minimalism

“The most standout trend and movement in Indian menswear, for me, is that of more is more. It’s all about maximalism. It’s more masculine but also more feminine and more fluid. It is not shy. The men’s fashion repertoire is finally growing in a very confident way,” says Akshay.

Vijay Varma in a Nirmooha outfit

Vijay Varma in a Nirmooha outfit
| Photo Credit: Lakme Fashion Week/ Special Arrangement

While on the subject of maximalism, Shantnu & Nikhil’s Capella collection is a decided shift from the sartorial, sober-hued minimalism that we admired in the previous seasons. Nikhil Mehra tells me, “We did go more maximalist than in the previous season. For instance, this season, we presented our cross-over drape, which can be worn individually for an understated evening or layered with a sherwani for a more ceremonial look. This season, it is all about layering the pieces right.”

Emerging menswear label Countrymade dabbled in tailored textured denim and camouflage on overcoats, a collection that was widely appreciated by the industry. 

Kurta on fleek

A model in an Anushree Reddy ensemble

A model in an Anushree Reddy ensemble
| Photo Credit: Lakme Fashion Week/ Special Arrangement

Insider’s perspective

“Outfits are getting stronger in terms of colour, print or shine, like we saw for Gaurav Gupta. Nirmooha dabbled in fun, candy colours while Saaksha & Kinni did flashy prints. My only reservation is that everything is being overdone because of social media. Whatever new trends you see, are already all out there. This could lead to fashion fatigue, in my opinion. In the recent past, due to the pandemic, people were forced to showcase on digital platforms, in their private studios or have non-fashion week presentations in smaller formats. Normalcy has now resumed.”

Isha Bhansali, celebrity menswear stylist behind Ayushmann Khurana and other actors.

Seen in multiple iterations — classic ethnic, worn overs neakers or in a coord set format — the kurta is clearly in focus. Hyderabad-based Anushree Reddy, whose menswear we had not seen before at Lakmé Fashion Week, made quite a statement with bold floral kurtas, layered elegantly with sherwanis.

Payal Singhal, known for her prints and contemporary take on kurtas, did not disappoint. This time, her collection, inspired by Mughal miniature paintings as well as abstract art, saw kurtas, coord sets and jackets in a variety of pop colour motifs. “I see Indian menswear becoming more avant-garde with more structure, exaggerated silhouettes, larger prints, prints with embroidery. The typical zardozi sherwani is no longer the norm.” Singhal’s collection saw denim kurtas with bomber jackets, with shorter sleeves, and even jogger pants, playing with proportions and comfort.

Key silhouette: the coord set

Seen most often on the ramp in the form of matching kurta-pyjama sets, designers have indeed jumped on this bandwagon. SNOB, by designer Mani Shanker Singh, showcased a series of gorgeously tailored, easy-to-wear printed coord sets, and so did Countrymade. SVA Couture by Mumbai-based husband-wife duo Sonam and Paras Modi eschewed a conventional approach to Indian menswear.

“Indian men are loving prints, these days, as they can layer it and take it from casual to formal quite effortlessly. Coord sets for men need to be relaxed and not oversized. Going by the prevailing trends, they can be layered with a smart trench coat or even a shacket,” says Sonam Modi of SVA Couture.

Similarly, veteran designers Abraham & Thakore chose to deconstruct the traditional suit into coord sets featuring oversized shirts, jackets and tailored pants, interpreted in their signature black and white style.

Athleisure again

While athleisure has been a major fashion staple in recent times, this season we saw it making an appearance in Indian silhouettes. Shantnu & Nikhil did embellished sweatshirts with sherwanis, Payal Singhal did embroidered bomber jackets, even Gaurav Gupta’s highly sculpted silhouettes saw a host of athleisure influences. Kurtas worn with sneakers, as we saw at SNOB, are the new norm.

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