The West has always been fascinated with the East, particularly India—with its rich cultural heritage, beliefs, and practices; its opulent festivals; traditional medical practices like Ayurveda; and of course, yoga. Over the last decade or so, Indian fashion has joined the list, as designers integrate the vibrant colors and contemporary apparel of modern India to catwalks around the world.
Make way for these five designers who are taking over international runways to showcase the best that Indian fashion has to offer:
Known for his timeless appeal with a modern twist, Rohit Bal incorporates sheer muslins and rich velvets into his designs. Rohit Bal’s creations are a go-to if you’re looking for that authentic “Indian” wedding attire with some modern styling. His designs often highlight the Golden Age of India with vintage kasab, Kashmiri work on muslin, Shibori for Chanderi and voiles. Jewel tones of maroon in velvet and ivory bases of muslin are draped to fashion structured corsets with Victorian collars. He has dressed celebrities like Cindy Crawford, Uma Thurman, Pamela Anderson, Elizabeth Hurley, Naomi Campbell, and tennis sensation Anna Kournikova in the past; and if he's good enough for them, he sure as hell can dictate what goes into our wardrobe anyday!
Falguni & Shane Peacock
The designer duo need absolutely no introduction. You’ve definitely seen their creations on some of your favorite A-listers like Madonna, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Fergie, Nicole Scherzinger, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Gal Gadot. Their signature style involves the use of metallic tones on futuristic silhouettes that are androgenous in their cut, yet feminine in their detailing. The duos crystal embellished gowns with sequin mesh inserts have been a hit on the red carpet often enough for the pop community to become die-hard fans. Notice the number of singer-songwriters in their clientele list?
But, why restrict crediting Indian designers for their apparel alone when they’re known for their eclectic style and detailing with accessories, too?
Have You Heard Of Manish Arora?
Known for his flamboyant style and ability to seamlessly merge traditional Indian elements with modern savoir faire, the designer has also ventured into jewelry and accessories which are a big hit, world-over. Chunky loooking lightweight pieces riddled in eccentric and quirky details that prove to be conversation starters is the only way to descibe his accessories line. It's not just current or relevant, it's trend-setting and therefore, best-suited for true fashionistas who know how to push the envelope.
Take for example this piece here: The design features geometric motifs and borders encompassing the psychedelic mirage forms from Burning Man, with lustrous holographic stones, matt gold, lacquer coating and beads. The color palette comprises of shades of blue from the sky with a wide use of black, navy blue and green as the base along with the stimulants of metallic gold.
Store: H Lorenzo, West Hollywood, CA
Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla
You may recall the duo’s red carpet design at the Venice Film festival, where veteran actor Judy Dench was seen in a delicate ivory-colored chikan outfit created by the revered designers. And what can you expect from The Boys
of the Indian fashion world? Put simply, exquisite couture that makes for wildly creative runway spectacles. It’s evident that the duo know how to impress and definitely dance to their own tunes as they steer away from expected trends even when they showcase their work on runways or design outfits for celebrities. Their signature style makes use of chikan or the phulkari textile from the Indian state of Punjab which is usually transposed on a white or muted canvas as they seem to be their favored base colors.
Fashion royalty, Ritu Kumar’s designs have graced Indian and international runways since 1969 and she’s definitely no stranger to Hollywood, having dressed celebrities like Jemima Khan, late princess Diana, Mischa Barton and Melanie Brown. If that’s not all, she has also been successfully running stores in Paris, London and New York, and even has a book published by Christies called Costumes and Textiles of Royal India
. Her signature style reflects the ancient traditions of Indian craftsmanship in a contemporary vocabulary, focusing on natural fabrics and traditional printing and weaving techniques.
When talking about dressing Venus Williams the designer said, “It is of so much interest to global fashion to see how the sari is crossing all sartorial barriers and is being worn by celebrities across the world. Venus has chosen a sari which are flattering to her skin tone, is in rich colours and has a heritage of embroidery techniques used for embellishment. The pioneer woman from the sports world adds a lot of glamour to the fusion of Indian and international sensibilities.”
Store: The Mall, Edison, NJ
And while Indian designers display their expertise or Indian sensibilities, the cultural influences aren’t limited to their creations alone. Let’s recall Karl Lagerfeld’s avant-garde sari
gown. He even went on to design churidaar
pants, anarkali kurtas
coats. He added that “royal” touch by way of pearl embellishments, gold and silver work. Additionally, he accessorized his looks with maangtikas
, nose rings, traditional Indian waist belts and hand bands. It couldn’t get any more ethnic than that!
Have a favorite Indian designer who didn't make it to our list?