High style from the hills

Creative ideas from the North East will feature at the forthcoming Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, Summer/Spring 2013 and Shillong Fashion Week. Dilli Haat is already hosting an exhibition of handicrafts, textiles and cultural performances from the region. By Ritika Arora

This month, the Seven Sisters have a wonderful treat for denizens of the Capital.

Gorgeous Assamese muga andpat saris embellished with gold and silver threadwork, crockery designed using a stone called serpentine, found in Manipur, traditional music dance shows, delicious cuisines, spectacular sculptures by artists from Mizoram and Meghalaya are all on the cards. Dilli Haat, INA is currently the venue for an ongoing eight-day-long cultural extravaganza by the Indian Union Textiles Ministry and the Director of Welfare of Plain Tribes and Backward Classes, Government of Assam. This will be followed by the 20th edition of Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) (summer/spring) 2013. It begins from October 6-10, at Pragati Maidan. The forthcoming Shillong Fashion Week (SFW) starts from Oct 19-20.

Talent on display

Many designers from the North East are participating at WIFW and SFW. Sunil Sethi, president of FDCI mentioned the patronage of projects from the region, by Kiran Dhingra, Secretary, Textiles. While Julie Deb, co-founder of SFW informed, “We have talent, but I feel we never got the window to show it to the world. WIFW and SFW will provide a wonderful platform to young designers. It will also be a cultural exchange. The Government of Meghalaya is offering its complete support.”

She added, “We began working on the fashion week, nine months back. Over 3500 weavers from North Eastern tribes registered with us. Both new and old designers are participating. Including Jenjum, Nachiket, Elizabeth, Gaurav and Anand Bhushan.” Julie told us that 2012, is considered the year of youth in Meghalaya. “So younger designers will present their collections and also exhibit NE textiles. They will be in charge of hairstylists, as well as the back and front stage management.”

Julie said that October was ideal for the event. “Durga Puja happens the last week of this month. Then youngsters have exams and winter arrives. We want more people to participate,” she ended.

On the first day of WIFW, Delhi-based Atsu Sekhose, from Nagaland, will showcase a contemporary collection,  capturing flavours of the region, its textiles and designs. Sekhose was recently bestowed with the Governor’s Award by Nagaland Government, for his contribution to fashion.

He informed, “I created 40 pieces. They are a ready-to-wear collection, inspired by American sportswear. I used traditional Naga fabrics like cotton and silk, woven by Vitole, an organisation supporting women weavers. I also used pure Assamese silks.” His collection comprises shorts, parkas, trench coats, trousers, shirts, short dresses and evening gowns. North East fashion is known for vibrant shades. Atsu used shades of reds, cobalt blue, off white, beige and black.

Mumbai-based Nachiket Barve talked about his Caravan collection, which mixes North-Eastern and western designs. “This is Indo-western wear. Silhouettes have a local and global feel. I extensively used tuareg and bedouin drapes and angrakha cuts on fabrics like chiffons, crepe, shot silk, resist dyed silks, velvet, lurex, brocade, dupion silk, organza etc.” Tie-dye dhoti drape saris, neo-kurtas in angarkha style are also part of the portfolio. Barve used earthy colours, combining techniques like Star Lattice thread embroidery, Mashru appliqué, band tie-dye, cutwork lattice and tassle details.

Born in a small village in Arunachal, Jenjum Gadi’s collection will be an ode to traditional gota work.

“I created 22 pieces with that technique. We do have traditional outfits, but Indo-western wear sells  better. For a different look, I used gota at the borders, in 3D, as embroidery, laces and cuts.

He explained, “My collection is not solely restricted to North Eastern fashion.” His work consists of pat and muga saris, collarless, sleeveless robes, vibrant waistcoats, called mushaiks, and so on.

Julie concluded, “We have designers, professional hairstylists and fashion bloggers, who graduated from fashion institutes like NIFT. Such platforms support designers and poor weavers. We are also talking to government. So SFW can organise fashion-related events in small towns and hills.