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Lakme Fashion Week: The comeback kids

Kimi Dangor


They took their faltering first steps into the world of fashion on the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) floorboards. While some launched their labels under these very arc lights, others were ushered in under the GenNext umbrella. This season, some of LFW’s coolest finds are back where it all began. As the Winter/Festive 2015 edition of LFW gets underway, starting today, at Palladium Hotel, Mumbai, we gather their insights and inspirations.


Private Matter


He made an indelible impact with his GenNext debut in 2007 and went on to do the LFW finale in a short span of five years, and then, inexplicably, Kallol Datta (pictured) decided to take a step back. The Kolkata designer, who is often credited with leading the anti-fit uprising and popularising motif prints (read snails, cutlery, cats) in Indian fashion, is making his LFW comeback, albeit with a “super micro” presentation. In the intervening years, Datta has sounded the death knell on the ‘quirky’ print campaign, dabbled in art and jousted with words. His multimedia presentation ‘Impasse’ on Day Three, on view for a very select audience, will provide a peek into this “work in progress”. “In my head, it’s less of a collection and more of a personal project,” says Datta cryptically.


Pret Perfect


Following a private preview last season, Anand Kabra takes on the LFW ramp after five years with an essentially pret collection. “I’m doing pret my way, with couture-esque details and handmade finer points,” says the Hyderabad-based designer, who made his debut here in 2006. So expect easy separates in relaxed silhouettes and a mix-and-match format, but detailed with three-dimensional embroideries, lace trimmings and hand painting on fabric. “It’s a western wear line rooted firmly in Indian ethos. So, there’s a kurta style converted into a jumpsuit, my favourite lungis and contemporary sari shapes,” says Kabra. His favoured colour palette of warm white, black, sand, green, red and gold makes an appearance. “The collection is all about movement, mobility and fuss-free clothing,” he adds.


Painterly Vision


She may have made her debut at LFW in 2006, but her subsequent relocation to Singapore and shifting of studio to Delhi, took Nikasha Tawadey away from the Mumbai marquee. “The brand has changed from our laid back Mumbai style to becoming a business-oriented outfit since,” says Tawadey. What has also been consolidated is the strong “east meets west” vibe of her label Nikasha, which she brings to the Mumbai ramp after six years. Her collection ‘Indira et Amrita’ draws inspiration from the glamourous Sher-Gil sisters and their enchanting lives in Hungary, Paris and India. “There is a strong 1920s feel, albeit with a contemporary twist,” says Tawadey, who has drawn upon the flamboyance of their lifestyles to create a line replete with artist Amrita’s favourite lily blossoms, Art Deco elements, silk fringes, zardozi and French knots.


Monochrome Magic


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photo:short cocktail dresses


Mumbai lad Nachiket Barve, who made his debut on the GenNext platform in 2007, will return to the LFW fold after four years with his autumn-winter line ‘Chiaroscuro’. The move was prompted by the appeal of the “runway to retail” format of LFW. “With the advent of social media, Instagram has become your runway,” says Barve. ‘Chiaroscuro’ (Italian for light-dark) appeals to the avid photographer in Barve, who is inspired by the play of light and shadows. Known for using vivid colours, in this collection Barve uses black and white to paint a graphic collection with raven feathers, Gothic architecture, oversized blooms, Gryphons and Hitchcockian elements, lending the proceedings “a darker edge”.


Street Signs


Life has come a full circle for Delhi boy Arjun Saluja. He debuted at LFW in 2006 with a collection inspired by vintage architecture — “that combined straight lines from German construction with the fluidity of Japanese draping”. Today, Saluja has honed his structure-meets-drape ideology to an art form, developed a cult following for his unique take on androgyny and is making a comeback to the Mumbai ramp after a gap of five years. He brings a slice of his Essentials range, a derivative of his label Rishta. ‘Abandoned’ draws inspiration from Indian streetwear with his trademark silhouettes wearing muted colours and “prints of abandoned buildings, walls and emotions”. “Mumbai is a big market that we haven’t explored in a while. The idea was to push our Essentials line in a more visual format through a runway show,” says Saluja.

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Cilla Black gate-crashed my wedding, says Shadow Culture Minister on visit to Liverpool

A Labour shadow minister today revealed how Cilla Black gate-crashed his wedding.


The late Scouse star was in attendance when Shadow Culture Secretary Chris Bryant tied the knot with partner Jared Cranney.


The pair were the first couple to celebrate a civil partnership in the Houses of Parliament in March 2010 after the iconic building was granted permission to host weddings.


Cilla, who had never been to a civil partnership before, asked if she could tag along to the then-Europe Minister’s nuptials.


Mr Bryant, who visited Liverpool today for a tour of the city’s arts and cultural centres, told the ECHO: “Mine was the only civil partnership she ever went to and she was an absolute delight.


Shadow Culture Secretary Chris Bryant (right) and Cilla Black


photo:cocktail dresses online


“I had met her once before and she knew a friend of mine who we had invited along to the wedding.


“She said to my friend ‘I’ve never been to a civil partnership, will they mind if I come along?’ It was a joy to have her there.”


While on his tour of Liverpool, Mr Bryant visited the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) in Wood Street, where he tried on a 3D-printed prosthetic hand, the Bluecoat creative hub in School Lane, the Tate Liverpool on the Albert Dock and the under-refurbishment Philharmonic Hall.


He said: “When I come to somewhere like Liverpool I see what an enormous difference the arts and cultural scene makes.


“In Liverpool I have seen people experimenting with new ideas and I firmly believe you can’t regenerate any city anywhere without the arts being right at the heart of it.”

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Michael Costello, desert fashion experts rock the Vegas runway

In dramatic fashion, Michael Costello’s model hit the runway in a shimmery floor-length dress as an animated live band played the notorious riffs of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.”


Each step the model took on the catwalk seemed in sync with the music, deftly showcasing the marriage of rock and fashion.


Celeb designer Costello, Astrella Celeste from Palm Springs — better known simply as Astrella — and Claudia Lua Alvarado of Indio all contributed to Monday’s rocking runway show that was a collision of art, music and fashion.


A couple hundred people sat in couches surrounding the Foxtail pool at the SLS Las Vegas hotel and crowded the stage sides as the iconic Stratosphere towered in the distance. The runway show coincided with MAGIC, a global fashion tradeshow that originated in Palm Springs in the 1940s.


“It was nice … to see some of the models react to that music. Because normally it’s a DJ and it’s very predictable and I think this was a little more emotional and I like that,” said Astrella, who showcased her Musical Ts line at the show.


The audience couldn’t help but dance in their spots and nod their heads to the music as the rotating all-star band continued to cover well-known and iconic songs, making the evening feel more like a rock concert.


A model wears a Michael Costello design during a rock


photo:formal evening dresses


“Because we come from music, we can pull a few favors from our friends,” said Astrella, the daughter of English folk singer and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall-of-Famer Donovan.


The performing musicians included Bob Forrest of Thelonious Monster, Stevie D and Kelly LeMieux, both of Buckcherry, Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction and Amp Fiddler of Parliament. All were friends of Astrella and her husband Jason Rothberg.


They all support her Musical Ts line, which in turn supports the music industry, she said. Each of her T-shirts, which feature the graphic designs of artist album covers, come with a scannable code that allows the purchaser to download the entire album of the featured artist — only once, though.


At the Monday show, she featured her summer line of shirts featuring Elton John, Queen, The Who, Slightly Stoopid, Spencer Davis and The Vandals.


In the early 1940s, in addition to attracting the Hollywood elite, Palm Springs played host to the country’s largest annual fashion trade show — The Menswear Manufacturers Association of Los Angeles.


The annual event was considered such a boon for the city that it spawned the construction of a “giant amphitheater” west of the Las Palmas area to host related fashion shows and events which coincided with Western Week.


“I think when buyers go up to market or to a trade show, it’s always nice to have an enticing place to go. In the 1940s and ‘50s, this was where all the celebrities went,” said Susan Stein, a Rancho Mirage fashion expert and runway show producer who also worked Monday’s show in Vegas.


The trade show eventually outgrew Palm Springs, then Los Angeles, and is now held in Las Vegas.


Lance Bass, of N’Sync fame and a Musical Ts wearer, served as MC and kicked off the fashion show on stage alongside his husband Michael Turchin and pop artist Miguel Paredes, both of whom had art work of album covers on display.


Stein lent her runway production expertise for the Las Vegas show. Stein also worked with Astrella in March for Fashion Week El Paseo, held annually in Palm Desert.


“I am very happy. And I have to say I feel good,” Astrella said about the overall show. She said she learned a lot from the other designers, specifically how the structure of a runway show works and preparing the order of looks for the show.


“I think that’s probably, deep down, one of the reasons why I wanted to share in this experience, because I have a lot to learn and I did learn a lot tonight,” she said.


“It was a little scary, a little stressful, but I learned a lot and I feel honored that I got to learn that from designers I have admiration for.”


In addition to Costello and Lua, the other designers who participated in the show include: Band of Gypsies, Romeo + Juliet Couture, Bella Dahl, D.J. Ashba and Dr. Martens.


Costello, a seasoned designer who gained fame on “Project Runway” and got his start in Palm Springs by opening up a boutique downtown when he was 15, showcased his Nirvana collection — a series of his favorite show-stopping silhouettes.


For Lua, who recently launched her line of one-of-a-kind, special occasion dresses after 14 years of designing for corporate companies such as Forever 21, the fashion show was “a dream come true.”


She showcased 12 looks that included evening and cocktail dresses and “mother/daughter” outfits.


Lua had her own cheering section at the show. In addition to her family, a few members of the Fashion Group Foundation of Palm Springs traveled to Las Vegas to provide support and see Lua’s first major fashion show, featuring her own label.


Diana Strickland of Indio, a member of the local fashion group, loved how Lua’s looks were different than most of the other collections that veered more toward rock ‘n’ roll.


“I had to see Claudia. I felt like her showing really softened the whole thing. It was sweet and really soft and pretty and really glamorous clothing,” she said.


Lua was able to sneak out during her show to take a peek as her fashions walked the runway to Kemo the Blaxican’s Latin style of hip hop.


“I feel so happy and thankful that everything turned out really well,” Lua said. “It was so cool because it was a different kind of set-up. Not your traditional set-up. It was live music, rock ‘n’ roll, rap, Spanish, it was a mix of everything and I loved it,” she said.

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