Wings of colors flutter at fashion show

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by Shalini Shah

Designer Anupama Dayal turns to her prints and colors, with the unexpected pashmina, in her Spring/Summer 2011 line.

Inspiration is a strange world that encompasses many things, floating between the classical, cutting-edge, celestial, plain weird, mundane and worldly. Designer Anupama Dayal, in her Spring/Summer 2011 collection, The Kinnaris, which showcased at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, turned to the mythical half-woman, the half-bird that had its abode in the Himalayas and traces its origins to Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Summing it up, what you have is a riot of colors in light, breezy, wearable clothes in flowing silhouettes.

“The theme was entirely researched and conceptualized by my 11-year-old,” Anupama revealed at the end of the show. While going through research notes on the Phoenix, something felt missing and, thus, in came the Kinnari. “The way in which a child sees things is amazing.”

Prints, a regular feature of the Anupama label, came in the form of classical European chintz and panels inspired from folk textiles from places as spread out as Vietnam, Orissa, Mexico and Nagaland. Silhouettes varied from tunics and embroidered shorts, paneled skirts to shararas, long dresses and kaftans in light-weight fabrics like chanderi, silk twill, crepe and georgette. “The mood was psychedelic, with a technology-meets-organic feel,” explains Anupama.

Pashmina, a rockstar: The interesting part, however, came in the form of the pashmina – accompanying most of the garments, though not in ways we’re used to. It came tied around the waist on a printed dress, draped as a bustier with a sari skirt, or worn as a sarong over a tunic dress. “Styled mercilessly”, as the designer put it.

“We don’t always realize how special the pashmina is,” says Anupama. But pashmina in a Spring/ Summer line? “It’s been a rock star, but mostly outside India than within. It is mostly perceived as a summer scarf abroad… Even here, I’ve realized that in flights and air-conditioning, I end up having one in my bag always. When you’re traveling, it’s nice to have something solid and beautiful, and it’s nice to have something from your own country.”
The sari, which is being reinvented by every hand it is passing through, saw its own version here; in this case a handloom sari from West Bengal with an acid rain pallu, which was paired with a pashmina. “We love our sari, no matter what happens. But we need to find new ways of wearing it,” says Anupama.

Founded in 2004, the label Anupamaa has now added Lebanon, Tunisia, Ivory Coast to its retail presence list, with USA too being a new addition; 30 countries in all.

“We’ve just added jewelry, men’s wear, and kids wear, and the demand is absolutely amazing. But ultimately it’s a cottage industry, and you want to keep it exclusive. But now I’m willing to take to the business model and work with people who know the business side of things,” says the designer.
Colors, she predicts, are what will be big for Spring/Summer 2011. The Kinnaris line, too, came with more than its share of fluorescent pinks, turquoise, teal magenta and neon orange. “Colors are going to pop by the time Spring/Summer arrives. I keep telling everybody how I have a disease with color; I can never have enough. As Indians, we’re totally up to it. The question is how the rest of the world copes with it.”

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