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Of icebergs, sculptures, androgyny and more at WIFW
The Times of India - 09 Oct 2012

It was quite a unique show that we were a witness to on the afternoon of Day 3 at Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Spring/Summer '13 with Alpana&Neeraj and ArjunSaluja as the runway designers.

While the arctic region with all its ice-cold harshness translated in snowflakes designs in AlpanaNeeraj's clothing range; we saw designer ArjunSaluja find his muse in Man Booker nominee JeetThayil's novel Narcopolis. An amalgamation of literature and geography on the ramp was a delight for some while hinting on the obscure for many. Intense themes and conceptualization when replicated in garments either generate rounds of applause, else extract a lukewarm response. In this case, it was mixed.

Alpana&Neeraj present 'frozen' spring/summer collection

In an audacious attempt to recreate the cold Arctic winter, designers Alpana and Neeraj based their entire collection on whites (being true to the pristine ice whites), blues of the lakes, blacks of the clouds and reds of the crimson skies. A variety of tunics, skirts, tops and gowns structured with lace and tulles occasionally came accessorised with trims resembling frozen twigs on strategic places on the garments. The microscopic patterns of ice have been moulded with a sense of angular sharpness that keeps reminding the spectators about the rugged character of icebergs and landscapes. Elaborating on the technique and style, designer duo Alpana and Neeraj said, "The three-dimensional geometric patterns accentuated with ice embroidery on shoulders convey strength, power and resilience. We have always had a penchant for sculpted pieces and with this collection we dived into the world of the unexplored," added Alpana. Some of the fish-cut and mermaid-like silhouettes noticed in the show as kohl-eyed models dashed down the runway were actually inspired by whales and penguins. Bejewelled jackets with ornate designs on the arms, tunics doubling as gowns, protruding waistlines, zipped dresses, net blouses tied in buckles, high-collared and often full-covered necks added an extra zing to the outfits.

Narcopolis' Dimple is ArjunSaluja's muse

Seems the fashion fraternity is not behind when it comes to being 'literary' in clothes and that's what designer ArjunSaluja wanted to prove through his latest range. His collection is not for men or women but for people with shades of both masculinity and femininity inside them. Called 'Rishta', the Summer-Spring wardrobe was about developing a relationship of equality between man and woman, even if it meant exploring the same through articles of clothing. The identity of the 'ardhanareshwar' and the sense of completeness within is what Arjun is trying to derive the aestheticism from. The Islamic architectural motifs in the silhouettes that seamlessly change from a 'Hakama' saree to a 'Pathan' suit also represents author JeetThayil's protagonist, Dimple's journey as a eunuch in 1970s Bombay. Explaining more about the collection ArjunSaluja said, "It is the purity of the soul of the 'hijra' in Jeet's novel that I wished to put across in my designs. Only people who are confident with their identity and personality would be able to carry off my creations," added the designer.

Colours, fabrics and designs: The story of struggle and strength, truth and dreams, reality and escape, destruction and liberation is narrated through the well-defined colour palette in white, black, nude, red, grey and cobalt. Natural fabrics, cotton, organza and silk are Arjun's canvases to stitching profound designs on. There are no prescribed rules of fashion that Arjun agrees to adhere to in his collection; bush shirts paired with dhotis, lehenga pants worn by men, skirts ending in loose trousers, shapeless kaftans, Nehru-like full-length jackets with thigh-high slits, harems and jumpsuits often resembling rapper-ons are some of the prominent outfits that do not qualify to strictly fall in either men or women's category. The recurring theme of the 'androgyny' therefore gets justified with every garment making its way to the runway in Arjun's show.

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