Delhi Couture Week kicked off with Varun Bahl showcasing his Haute Couture collection, India Nouveau. His ideology that couture in India is not only limited to trousseau dressing was evident through his collection.
Expecting to wade through the flood of glitter, gold and ostentatious dressing, it was a pleasant surprise to be confronted with sensuous black silhouettes in effectively subdued yet evident glamour.
There was liberal use of black- the first of the trousseau taboos, with interestingly placed zardozi motifs on sheer bodices and revealing bustiers. The lace infused mesh & net body suits teamed with saris and lehengas brought the modern vibe to the graceful traditional Indian dressing.
The tasseled shoes displayed their own character as they flirted with the audience while the models with their slick 1920’s hairdo’s, kohl rimmed eyes and vermillion lips sashayed down the runway.
For the Fall 2012-13 Haute Couture collection, Varun Bahl attempts to merge the classic evergreens of old India with the outlook of modern Indian dressing tastes. The underlying inspirations are undoubtedly Indian: the Sari, the Achkan, the Sharara, the Mughal Farshi, and of course, the Lehenga. However, the collection is aimed not only at the Indian wedding, but also towards those who love to dress Indian with pride, but are looking for modern updates on traditional Indian silhouettes.
The use of black as a key color is Varun Bahl’s statement against the preconceived in-auspiciousness of it, as black adds a modern relevance to the time-honored, traditional cuts and shapes this collection is based on. The other key colors in the collection are cobalt-to-navy blues, olive, coral, and reds.
With fabrics like silk net, chiffon, silk, velvet, and a multitude of hand embroidery techniques, Varun Bahl has synthesized a vision of modern India that surges towards the idea of haute-couture Indian wear with traditional roots and a contemporary outcome.
Transparency, layering, flounce, fit-and-flare, volume, and handcrafted textures are the key elements. At the same time, with the use of restrained and well-edited embellishments, he seeks to break through the notions of Indian haute couture being solely bridal dressing, and to bring it closer to modern, demanding, tasteful, and exacting consumers and connoisseurs.
This collection also marks the first ever collaboration between ‘a.k.a Bespoke’, a young, Mumbai-based footwear design label, and Varun Bahl Haute Couture. The shoes will be displayed in Varun Bahl stores in New Delhi and Mumbai solely for bespoke-order purposes.
Varun Bahl, a National Institute of Fashion Technology (New Delhi, India) graduate, launched his label in 2001. In 2003, this talented designer was invited to showcase his Spring/Summer 2003 collection at White in Italy. Each season, White, an elite group of talented designers, introduces a select group of new designers to the international fashion fraternity. It was here, amongst 20 competing designers from different countries and a tough jury that Varun Bahl’s collection was voted the “Best of Season”.
Varun is a designer who works intuitively; he knows what men and women with active lives and individual style want. He is passionate about both the design process and the ultimate product and is fueled by his artistic sensibility and a discerning eye for detail. Self-assured and unassuming, Varun Bahl is a man completely without artifice, as are his clothes. The look is natural, sophisticated and avant-garde.
The designer is known for his innovative use of exclusive fabrics and painterly use of colors, based on a singular vocabulary of elements. A synchrony of nuanced color, texture and pattern celebrate pure form and sensuality with an artful insouciance. The secret of Varun’s runaway success is his ability to look beyond the obvious (what’s in fashion, what look is in, what colors are in), and to continuously revisit and reinterpret his relationship with his customer. He knows whom he wants to reach, and he continues his love affair with his kind of customer – elegant, non-conformist, avant-garde, experimental, and continuously experiencing themselves.
The focus of his collection is primarily on surface ornamentation, simple and clean silhouettes and a fusion of techniques. Another feather in the cap was added when he was invited to showcase his ss/07 line at the Milan fashion week making him the first Indian designer to have showcased his collection there.
“My definition of fashion is luxury, and for me, luxury is happiness. Bohemian minded, in control, mature and experimental – that’s how I see my individual buyer.” – Varun Bahl
Another first in the history of design in India is the collaboration of Karan Johar +Varun Bahl, two leading creative talents from the world of cinema and the world of fashion. Their label will attempt to redefine men’s fashion. . The amalgamation of the thoughts and ideas of two individuals who have time and again proven their talent and individuality will result in creations out of the ordinary, excellent and yet completely relevant.
A dresser to the stars, various Bollywood celebrities have been seen wearing Varun’s clothes, including the very graceful Madhuri Dixit.
Varun’s label is available in stores across Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, the Middle and Far East as well as in Delhi and Mumbai, India. He recently opened his flagship stores in Delhi at DLF Emporio and Mumbai at Kala Ghoda.