India Fashion Week, from the 16th of March through the 20th, is happening in New Delhi. And it is, indeed, a time of celebration. Here is the world’s chance to view the wealth and beauty of Indian textiles, a tradition that goes back…how long? Might as well say “forever”, because India’s love for her own rich heritage has never wavered, though it has changed course, adapted, modified, and enlarged, many times. And so we admire and appreciate the contemporary Indian designers who draw from this wealth of artisanal beauty, the rich and detailed prints with their regional diversity, the intricate embroidery, the range and textures of handwoven cottons, silks, wools.
It is a different spirit from fashion displays in the West, where the emphasis is on trends, the “NOW” and the “WHAT NEXT?”, moving at an unsustainable speed, flipping silhouettes from season to season. Where everything is CHANGE.
India changes too, of course, but the current of tradition is too loved to be abandoned, and so it is retained, enriched, enlivened, revealing itself in new forms without ever losing its connection to its source.
And this affects, deeply, how an Indian woman feels about her clothes, about the happy feeling (yes, happy) and the sense of connectedness that comes from wearing a garment that expresses so much about her heritage, history, and place. Because Indians deeply love India. And today, the most modern, up-to-date, educated, and highly placed woman, in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, or anywhere, will feel that serious occasions, and times of celebration, require a sari, and nothing else will do. And that sari, incorporating print, embroidery, or a traditional woven, presents a living history that everyone can enjoy and admire.
And, of course, the West can also enjoy and admire. The influence of Indian fashion turns up repeatedly in European, American, and Australian designs. This isn’t new! Chanel, for one, has mined India repeatedly over the years. And now we’re seeing the introduction of classic Indian silhouettes (tunics, loose trousers and scarves for example) as women in the West discover, yet again, their beauty, comfort, and wearability.
So while Indian Fashion Week is time to admire and fall in love again with Indian textile traditions, it is also another opportunity for that “East/West” dialogue that Mehera Shaw is part of, and that runs through all our work and efforts.
So we join with India in this celebration, and we are enjoying it tremendously.
--from the desk of Mark Keller