The designer is dead, long live the art director

The lately concluded digital Couture Week has thrown up many related questions that India’s vogue designers must reply for themselves

If there is one factor that the first ever absolutely ‘digital’ Couture Week in India has confirmed, it is the indisputable fact that the position of the designer has advanced past the conventional experience of many vogue designers. Their collections’ ‘narratives’—already subservient to the calls for of social media—have grow to be extra vital than the merchandise they search to promote.

This characteristic, readers, is not going to offer you the particulars of which designer confirmed which silhouettes, championed which crafts or gildings, or how the fashions seemed draped in yards of luxurious textiles. You solely want to go looking Instagram and see that for yourselves. I merely want to draw apart the veil between designer and shopper, created by the many calls for of a digital showcase.

Look past the story

Haute Couture as the French have known as it for hundreds of years, has over the years taken by itself definition in India. This is a rustic many think about the final true bastion of handmade, handcrafted luxurious in the world. Our handwoven textiles and painstakingly crafted gildings that take lots of of hours by a single artisan, now appear to carry no inherent worth on their very own. All because of social media’s drive of democratisation and its fixed longing for tales and narratives.

Now, every designer should vie for the fickle consideration of a big group of viewers who could not even be capable of afford their creativity and artisanship. The irony. Without a story connected, actual prospects can’t see themselves in these garments. Think of Gaurav Gupta’s excellently inclusive selection of fashions, Rahul Mishra taking us to a renovated Tijara Palace, whereas few if us have had the privilege to journey in the previous six months, Kunal Rawal utilizing the iconic Asiatic Library in Mumbai, and Anju Modi evoking historic Indian magnificence rituals. Without these identifiers, the buyer is misplaced. How unhappy.

If this is the actuality at this time, I congratulate Falguni and Shane Peacock for creating the most actual and related digital expertise amongst all of them. They have their finger firmly on the pulse. Celebrity stylist Shaleena Nathani sashayed onto a vogue present set and fiddled with a mannequin’s robe earlier than sending her and others off onto the catwalk. As the video progressed, stylist Tanya Ghavri was noticed correcting a flawlessly worn gown, adopted by Bollywood’s favorite stylists Aastha Sharma and Mohit Rai. This is Falguni and Shane Peacock speaking on to their followers. After all, which lady in a position to afford high fashion doesn’t dream of a Mohit Rai or a Shaleena Nathani fussing over her? They made their prospects’ fantasies come alive, whereas others simply tried to inform their ‘stories’ in the hopes of being understood.

Even with the return of JJ Valaya to the couture showcase—a designer who had his personal web site manner earlier than anybody even conceived of the thought in the early 2000s—the indisputable fact that he was the just one to speak on to his viewers was finally subsumed. By? The easy regularity of a superbly produced vogue present video. But no use crying over cut up silk.

The actuality is that at this time, few designers in India are in a position to synchronise their digital expertise with e-commerce backup. And the very nature of e-commerce is antithetical to the tactile and sensory expertise of Indian high fashion, of which consultations with the designer are an vital half. So even when a designer is absolutely ready to take orders on-line instantly after their digital showcase, it is close to inconceivable to foretell the return on their funding. This is, in spite of everything, high fashion; by definition, it is made to order in each manner conceivable.

A snapshot from designer duo Falguni and Shane Peacock’s collection

A snapshot from designer duo Falguni and Shane Peacock’s assortment
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Which revisits the ‘storytelling’ facet, and the creation of X-women and males, the place X represents the designer’s identify. This is a superb technique, in order that purchasers purchase high fashion with out truly asking for an excessive amount of customisation or face-time with the designer.

First got here Sabyasachi

I spoke to Rahul Mishra two days earlier than his present aired on Instagram, and he identified that whereas this can be the nation’s first digital high fashion vogue week, Kolkata-based designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee had already mastered the art of the Instagram reveal quite a lot of years in the past. In the course of, Sabyasachi has grow to be a one-name model—like Madonna and Cher—for which he deserves limitless credit score. Why then are the vogue business’s different flag-bearers not in a position to create their very own methods of showcasing their work? Did they suppose a web based movie pageant would—and right here I reference a characteristic already revealed on-line on the Business of Fashion—be sufficient?

I had promised my editor at this publication that I’d watch all Couture Week reveals on my telephone display on the official FDCI Instagram deal with like hundreds of ‘non-fashion industry-related’ followers, in an try and see it via their eyes.

Benhind the scenes at Gaurav Gupta’s show

After viewing all ten showcases over 5 evenings, I’m left with just a few easy questions: Is each designer good at ‘storytelling’ in the manner that Instagram calls for they be? Should they be? Do they want complete myths and legends to be spun round their garments to promote them? Maybe I’m an excessive amount of of an idealist, however do garments that help and provide complete factories and craft clusters of expert artisans with livelihoods want some other validation than their inherent worth?

As I finish this characteristic with these queries, I wish to guarantee my friends in the vogue business that I’ve not written it to mock their efforts. We are all studying as we enter a brand new digital age and face its challenges, heightened by the international pandemic that continues to rage throughout us. I’m right here merely as a questioner, and I do know very effectively that there aren’t any proper solutions. Only those who work for every designer personally and individually.

The writer is a vogue commentator and Communications Director at the House of Angadi

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