Indian designers debut at Paris Haute Couture Week 2021

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There may be many heavyweights in the Indian fashion fraternity, but not everyone gets an invite to showcase their collection at Paris Haute Couture Week (PHCW) 2021. In a first, sustainable designs of Indian couturiers Vaishali Shadangule and Rahul Mishra were exhibited at the Spring/Summer 2021 show.

‘The Shape of Air’ by Rahul Mishra

Mishra at PHCW2021 Source: Twitter

While countries slowly open their borders, Rahul Mishra’s Couture Fall Collection 2021/22 ‘The Shape of Air’ is reminiscent of adventure to the Aegean Sea and inspires one to look forward to a season of beauty, elegance and travel.

The designer showcased an ensemble of artistic expressions in couture. The digital show featured a recollection of the overall experience, of how a physical space is perceived by the eyes and felt by a soul.

Inspired by a holiday to Santorini before the pandemic, the designer found himself answering questions that we had forgotten to ask ourselves — about simple things that seem to bewilder only a child, which overwhelm one to observe the unseen details that make up experiences.


The line-up featured five elements — earth, water, fire, air and space, combined in right proportions: a physical space. The designer recreates the city of Santorini with its elements into clothing. The glistening blue sea, bathing in the bright sun, the salty wind and pink bougainvilleas and sewed and woven into ensembles in a formidable artistic voice.

“Intricate details rendered in hand embroidery, hand cut and individually tacked on the bright hued, ombre surfaces. Pinched, gathered and sheered lengths of tulle representing air and water in their different interpretations gives volume and movement to the otherwise sculptural silhouettes. Some of the other applications include dramatic draping of sheer fabric, to create a fluid bubble around the garments,” said the designer in his note.

Mishra, an advocate of sustainable and slow fashion continues to promote its values with this collection. As the world recognises the value of slow fashion, Mishra said he, “feel(s) elevated confidence in our intentions and pride, for our entire team of artisans, weavers and embroiderers that wholeheartedly contribute to the realisation of our dreams, come what may”.

‘Breath; श्वास’ by Vaishali Shadangule

Shadangule (far right) featured beautiful hand woven merino wool from central India in her collection. Source: Instagram

Vaishali Shadangule also makes us proud as the first ever Indian female designer to showcase her collection ‘Breath; श्वास’ on the prestigious platform.

“You know, it is a great recognition, and I am very proud of it, after a 20-year journey of research and expression. What I feel more though, is a huge sense of responsibility. India has a vast heritage and population of highly skilled workers; this will be a global stage for all of them through my work,” She told IANSlife in an interview. “This is a huge opportunity to show what India is capable of, at the highest global standards.”

Source: Vaishali Studios

“Despite all the challenges of lockdown in Mumbai and difficulties with the courier from the different weavers’ villages and with minimal resources, finally I made it and managed to showcase 30 looks. This would have not been possible without my team’s indomitable support,” Vaishali revealed in an Instagram post.

Seeing an increasing focus on sustainability and handmade materials during the pandemic, Vaishali highlighted the edge India has over others.

“India is the land of amazing textiles, embroideries, sensibility for colours and attention to design. I think it is high time we start being more present on the global stage. I think it is high time we as designers start experimenting more in silhouettes that have a more global language,” she said.

“I will never stop repeating that now it is the time of India. What the world is looking for now is exactly the very basic of our normal life and tradition. We just need to “package” it in a more understandable way. Where we must up our game is also in the service and final quality, where technology can also happen: another area where India is at the top of the world. I hope it is not just another lost opportunity,” the Indian couturier expressed.


READ ALSO: Australian Fashion Week 2021: Meet Nitesh Pillai

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