Best of both worlds

Best of both worlds
Back in the early 2000s, Indo-Western look meant teaming your denims with a kurta or teaming a T-shirt with an ethnic skirt. Quite naturally, the look caught on because of how easy it was to rustle up, its versatility and its ability to swing both ways — sartorially. Like semi-formals, if you will. They walk the middle path, without tilting too much on either side.

Cut to 2017, Indo-Western means a serious fashion line with numerous spins on traditional garments and styles and some innovative mixing. Aptly named dhoti pants, shirt blouses and kurti dresses, these are some of the off shoots of the trend that designers predict, is here to stay.

Comfort first
“I think the Indo-Western category found its niche when women were seeking festive wear that is comfortable, trendy and relevant. As with any look, I think it works best when kept simple because minimalism speaks volumes. An intelligently styled, contemporary ensemble that highlights an Indian element coupled with light accessories, makes for a classy Indo-Western look,” says designer Anavila.

Whatever the interpretation, the core remains the same, believes Payal Khandwala. “To me, it is clothing that is deeply rooted in India and its heritage of craft and textiles, but is global in spirit. This way, it transcends geographical boundaries to connect with a larger audience, one that is outside of its own cultural context. This, in my opinion, will make us stand out in the fashion landscape,” says Payal, who believes it’s a mix-and-match game all the way. “Versions of our kurta and tunics, bottoms like salwars, pajamas, skirts like the lehenga, drapes like the lungi, dhoti, and staples like jeans, a classic white shirt and jackets can all be mixed and matched to create a unique personalised Indo-Western look,” she adds.

Sensible saris
While the look blends all sorts of Indian and Western garments, Anavila’s favourite interpretation is getting playful with the sari. “To me, a classic sari, personalised to one’s choice is ideal. Wear it with a cropped shirt and printed petticoat or linen pants. Having said that, comfort is as important as style. And this year, I see people making more conscious choices,” says Anavila, who wants to shatter the notion of the six-yards being a pick-me-up for special occasions. She wants to see it placed on the daily-wear section of the wardrobe, next to denims, perhaps.

It’s not just the garments though. Prints and accessories go a long way in creating an Indian look, points out Navya Jain. “The important elements of an Indo-Western look is the existence of one or more striking and contrasting features that mingle with the traditional aspects to create something unique. It could be in the form of striking necklines or Western silhouettes on Indian fabrics. A pair of Western pants made from classic Indian fabric makes for a stunning combination — think cigarette pants fashioned out of Banarasi silk! It involves a lot of fabric manipulation and knowledge of the various cuts and combinations and a study of the history of different societies that does justice to both the worlds,” she says.

Citing some more examples Navya adds, “For instance, incorporating the poncho, which is basically a South American garment designed for extremely cold weather, into Indian kurtas, saris, lehengas etc., is a classic example of how we merge two different parts of the world. Another example would be the use of traditional kotki or ikat work to make Western jackets, pencil skirts and jumpsuits etc. Tribal Indian jewellery (think chunky silver or oxidised neck pieces or jhumkas) worn with absolutely contrasting Western wear like pants and crop tops, peplum dresses etc. also look great. Incorporation of the Japanese bell sleeves in lehenga blouses, traditional Indian kurtas and many other things is yet another example of the 2017 spin.”

Harmonious union
Speaking of spins, Payal’s “the little sari” is a curious one. “The little sari is a shorter length sari that can be draped to retain the romance and drape of the original six-yard, but without the fuss of the pleats. You can pair it with closet wardrobe staples such as a pair of jeans, trousers, stiff-collared shirts, jackets and also T-shirts. It makes something truly Indian less local and more global. Also less intimidating and more accessible,” says Payal.

Very often two styles merge so beautifully, that you can’t tell that they are two different looks altogether. The cold-shoulder blouse, for instance, points out Maheka Mirpuri. While the choli backs have been experimented with in a zillion ways, one couldn’t do much with the sleeves apart from creating variations in their length. Which is why, the cold shoulder is a refreshing change and addition to the traditional choli that blends in beautifully with the aesthetics of a desi ensemble.

Other such winning combinations include, adding a dupatta or stole to a Western gown, adaptation of the floor-length kurta as a long dress, teaming up a corset with a sari or lehenga and wearing peasant tops with lehengas. “My favourite, however, is the dhoti-styled pant with tunic. It is a hot trend this year,” adds Maheka.

Is this then, a trend that’ll defy seasons? She says, “Fashion, in general, is evolving into something that is more personal and not simply following seasonal trends anymore.” We’ll take that as a yes.
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