If you love attending fashion weeks to catch trends and spot innovation as much as I do, 2016 was the `Year for Men’s Fashion,’ where Men completely hogged the spotlight, nudging the ladies clear off the ramp. Designers focused their creativity in celebrating a buoyant revival from the old school, basic everyday pant-shirt to forward thinking menswear couture. Hard to miss the writing on the wall, but yes, Men have fashionably stepped forward to this mirror. So, let’s welcome the era of the Indian `fashion peacock.’ Lean gym toned bodies, experimental looks, attention to hair colour and fairness creams, Indo-Fusion wardrobes, sexy, flaunting even. Not that we are complaining. We like what we see.
While Casual and Corporate dressing sees a shot in the arm with fit and comfortable Indo-Western silhouettes –seen aplenty at the Lakme Fashion Week and Amazon India Fashion Week Spring-Summer’17 — Bridal wear and evening formals for Grooms still clearly go big on Tradition, yet eclectic in colour, cut, textile treatment and youthful styling. The message in the bottle is clear– the Indian Male is re-defining and shifting gears with tastes. Interesting so far? It gets better. Let’s see which designers are re-writing style and trend sheets to separate the Men from the Boys.
GO MONOCHROME OR GO HOME
Breaking the pack and standing head above shoulders as seen at the India Fashion Week Spring-Summer’17, ASHISH N SONI and RAJESH PRATAP SINGH clearly bell the Tomcat. Going bold on Corporate Casual and Monochrome – the new IT on the fashion circuit – their designs celebrate androgyny and individualism, with Black, White, Grey and Chrome ruling the wardrobe. Couple this with plaid, checks, long kurta shirts worn over sharp tailored Western jackets and Pathan inspired volume trousers. A&S also recently introduced a bold entry into the Male market with the `Puddle Pant’ — an unconventional adaptation of flare pants and volume trousers, with dramatic silhouettes at the bottom for leg room and comfort.
Forecasting this trend development and building upon it, are new entrant young designers also clearly aiming to dress the more Modish, Cosmopolitan Indian Male. Is it finally time to say goodbye to neat, straight, pencil trousers? Perhaps a welcome change? Let time tell. Of course, true to Indian tradition, details like black zardosi on lapels and collars, fabrics like velvet and cotton, embroidery and textured surfaces continue to drive home a tempered down minimalist look. Indian fashion draws deeply from its indigenous traditions, but still feels like a breath of fresh air.
YOUTHFUL TIMELESS CLASSIC MEETS THE URBAN AVANT GARDE
To those who dare not stray from the beaten track, there is always the Classic Vintage that defies an expiry date. However, now with a twist. A master stroke perfected by VIVEK KARUNAKARAN with his die-hard singular minded revival of the traditional Indian heritage `Kalamkari’ fabric, now translated into uber-cool, sporty, outdoorsy, western silhouettes. Riding breeches with colour-blocked shirts, layered waistcoats, intricate piping with fabric, detailing with metallic zippers, regimental tapes and badges, completes an edgy, brooding, raw sensuality sophistication for the metro sexual male. Think Ranveer Singh getting dirty at a ranch and still looking drop dead gorgeous? Now you get the picture.
Adding a roguish boy-next-door playboy charm to an international blend of living life in the fast lane, Dubai based VAROIN MARWAH takes the everyday Denim and juxtaposes it with flair, colour, structure and a international flamboyance. His cuts, stylised silhouettes and fabric treatment suddenly gives the iconic Denim a chic-casual flexibility by day, and instant outdoor relaxed formality by night. The buzzword being `Separates.’ Yeah, Men like it too. However, by his own admission, Marwah is not a fan of Indian traditional wear, but prefers his groom in classic suits or tuxedo. Yup, some boys will be boys!!
FRESH BLOOD RE-DEFINE MENSWEAR
Fresh off the block are three menswear designers who recently caused `Stop Press and Notice Me’ statement debut at the Amazon India Fashion Week. Their influences, youth, vitality, personal experiences and evolution spoke of their understanding of a generation of men who think different, assert their individuality and show it.
At the Amazon India Fashion Week Spring-Summer’17, DHRUV VAISH made a play for masculine cuts drawing deeply from Travel, to his design influences of Cuba’s military and renegade history. Hence, the revival of the classic Double Breasted Jacket and Safari Suits for day and evening wear (remember our fathers/grandfathers wearing them?), paired with (and here’s the oddity) contrasting crisp cotton and light linen fluid trousers. How ruggedly avant garde!! Brings back the smell of Old Spice After Shave nostalgia.
PAWAN SACHDEVA creates a distinct irreverent look for the style-conscious men who are aware of trends, but do not rely on them. Finely detailed bomber jackets, craft and workmanship, laser cutwork summer dressing in muted palettes for the modern urban dresser, perfectly embodied by the chisel face Bollywood new age action man, Vidyut Jammwal, who strutted as show-stopper. Caused quite in instant jump in BP. Very ultra chic.
SAHIL ANEJA speaks for the youth, by the youth, for those who have stepped out of the comfort zone into the broad, fusion-led, dynamic international fashion world. A refreshing focus on straight lines, quirky texturization of fabrics on form fitting menswear. Appealing and trendy at once.
WOMEN LIKE IT HIPPIE
India’s rockstar yogini, MALINI RAMANI surprised us all with her menswear debut at the Amazon India Fashion Week Spring-Summer’17, setting the bar for casual hippie chic and a limited edition fluid, easy, comfort menswear. Travel light, reject baggage and go with the flow is the chill-code. Daywear jumpers transform into evening cocktail. Settling for a colour palette of soft tones using various hand dyed techniques, subtle embroidery and a mix of crème, beige and dip dyed blacks, this season Malini sets a dress trend for the globe trotting, chilled out, head bun sporting male. Comfort in the board room, Chic Sexy at a sunset cocktail party by the beach in Goa. Trippy!!
OLD IS GOLD. WHY TRADITION STILL WINS
“The philosophy is always “Old is the new New,’ believes ASHOK MAANEY known to infuse traditional menswear bridal fashion with energy and rich cultural heritage.` How you shape history into something that is relevant today, yet still be an ode to Indian art, handicrafts and textiles, defines its originality,” he says. Inspired by the old world charm of the royal couturiers, Maaney asserts that despite innovation and strides into menswear fashion in India, Sherwanis, Bandh-galas, Waistcoats and Bundis will still continue to be the staple diet of the Indian Male and Groom. `Why fight it,’ Maaney questions, “Embrace Indian wear and carry it with style. I can proudly tell you that I myself love Indian wear for all of our western influences around us.” A life-saver style tip he happily shares for men is “Invest in `Ready to Buy’ vests and waistcoats. It doesn’t have any sleeve length that needs to be altered, and you only need a chest measurement because the waist can also be adapted to your size.” Go stock!!
Favourite A-lister celebrity designer, KUNAL RAWAL also makes a strong case for traditional Indian wear as seen at the Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive’16. Turning the heat with Bollywood heart-throb Ranbir Kapoor who incidentally is quite the Role Model to portray youthful vibrancy in traditional attire, Kunal’s collection ranged from bold shades of wine and champagne to neutrals like ivory, charcoal and olive. An air of youthful energy envelops a Kunal creation. His modern take on the Sherwani and shorter versions of the Pathani kurta, along with staples like Bundis and jackets were generously embellished with beads, geometric flowers in rich 2D and subtle bling. Which further reinstates why Indian men will never desert their cultural roots and loyalty to traditional upbringing.
Think regal, royal, stately, almost other-worldly and instantly the Couturier every fashionista dreams of, is SABYASACHI MUKERJEE. What an iconic brand with a vision that goes beyond fashion and towards cult status. Sabyasachi’s ability to continuously stun his audiences and fans with exquisite craftsmanship is legendary and sought after by international fashion collaborators across the planet. While his focus continues to celebrate the Indian Woman, Sabya also makes the effort to dress up the Indian Groom with a strategic focus on bridal wear only. By far the biggest fashion business vertical in India.
At the Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive the designer presented a stunning bridal collection for men. Showcasing the Bandh-gala and rich silk Sherwanis in floral prints, the maestro stuck gold keeping to traditional knee lengths and no fuss styling, making India’s rich textile the hero of the day.
So, what are the lessons learnt here? It’s simple. What ties together our Indian designers is a quest for innovation and a steady dedication to organic textiles and functionality in design. They have clearly understood the needs of the modern Indian Man, what they like to wear and a celebration of indigenous trends that separates Indian Men from their western counterparts. Get ready then to rewrite some fashion rules and re-stock those wardrobes. Happy shopping.
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