It’s made-in-Calcutta time in China. Days after Dona Ganguly’s footwork, the spotlight fell on Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s fashion.
Sabya’s designs walked the ramp of a new frontier for Indian fashion on Thursday night. Wearing the sheer and shimmering pieces and rose-tinted glasses of the Calcutta designer’s latest bohemian look were Chinese models, for a largely Chinese audience, in Shanghai.
The four-day show, called Asian Fashion Blooming, has been organised to coincide with the World Expo Shanghai 2010 and to inaugurate a new fashion venue in the city. Featuring designers from Japan, Korea and Hong Kong, the Indian contingent selected to open the event was brought in through an association between Shanghai Fashion Week and Lakme Fashion Week.
And while Sabya’s largely western silhouettes posed no problem for the models, they carried off with equal ease the saris that appeared in collections of the two designers sharing the stage, Nikasha Tawadey and Anand Kabra.
Fittings did present unexpected challenges, though. “My god, she is too tall!” said Sabya as he helped drape a yellow chiffon sari by Nikasha on a model who had never worn one before. “Can you pin the back?” she asked Anand. “In fact, can you pin the front as well? I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
The collections of all three designers were those seen at the latest LFW in March. Nikasha’s resort wear collection opened the show, her soft, feminine look easing the audience in. Anand Kabra’s more edgy selection blending west and east followed.
Sabyasachi’s 14 pieces closed the event, his rich textures, embellishment, earthy colour palette and music bringing a touch of art to the proceedings. Sabya, who has gone places in the nine years he has been on the fashion scene, isn’t completely new to Shanghai.
“I used to sell at a store here called Joyce. I want to visit it this time to see what it looks like,” he said.
The high-end boutique that also stocks the likes of Balenciaga and Vera Wang had picked him up after a New York Fashion Week showing.
“Fashion here is very bohemian,” said Sabya, agreeing that his designs may fit in with the city’s style sensibility.
But Shanghai is also relentlessly western, and it is no surprise that the questions from the local reporters after the event touched upon the Indian designers’ ability to marry east and west so seamlessly.
“If you look at India’s long history of tradition and raw material, it is not surprising. If China is famous for its manufacturing, India is famous for its work done by hand,” said Sabya.
What the fashion landscape of China and India do have in common is textiles, and cross-pollination in this area is not new. Nikasha, asked about what fabrics she had used in her fluid collection, noted that the “cotton was from India, and the silk may have been from China”.
“We are representing Indian fashion in a market we want to eventually develop,” said Sujal Shah, head of fashion, IMG, co-promoters of LFW. “It is a new market, and we will need to make inroads.”
The audience was a mix of “media, government officials and the Shanghai fashion set”. Anand Kabra said this was his “research phase”, but he too felt that there was potential in the market.