A blast from the past

WHAT MEN WANT

A blast from the past

Kunal Kapoor shows off a rather daring silver-on-charcoal checked jacket by Manoviraj Khosla.

Colour is a bright force in men’s wardrobes next season, according to India’s top designers. While the rest of the world may still be limping out of the recession, desi designers seem to believe there’s much to celebrate here in India. Or maybe it’s a prescription for distraction. Either way, going by a recent presentation of menswear in New Delhi recently, such eye-popping shades as lime green, orange and shocking pink are the order of the day for Manoviraj Khosla and Rohit Bal. Purple is a hot favourite for Smit Raj Gyanani and for Troy Costa, who also sent out one notable tuxedo in a stunning shade of summer yellow. We’d also happily wear any of the rust pieces in Rajesh Pratap Singh’s rock and roll line.

But thankfully, there’s also a fair amount of monochrome on offer, too, in keeping with international trends. Dark hues typical of fall are everywhere, from Narendra Kumar Ahmed to Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna, so look for black, steel grey, white, army green and navy.

We’re particularly impressed with Wendell Rodricks’s tango-themed Argentine inspiration. Almost entirely black and white with a smattering of red, the designer perfectly brings Latin fluidity into his new line, a romantic blend of sharp lines and easy layers, cut from handwoven and natural fabrics. We love his reversible trousers and kurta shirts.

As you might expect from menswear here, textures and embellishments are a big trend. Narendra Kumar Ahmed takes his inspirations from all things Japanese this season, so expect pleated palazzo pants and cowl neck jackets. Sanchita Ajjampur has scattered beetles and other creepy crawlies about her line and camouflage detail shows up at Vijay Arora, as edging on shirts or printed onto kurtas.

Overall, particularly with his rather literal Air Force-inspired styling, Arora’s line looks like a pitch to design the uniforms of one of the country’s many private airlines. Or he’s got a uniform fetish – but sadly, the clothes just weren’t kinky enough. Now if the warpaint on the models was chocolate…

One particularly fun detail comes courtesy Karan Johar and Varun Bahl, who are inspired by New York this season, and have silhouetted the city’s distinctive skyline onto their menswear, with artist Nikhil Sabharwal drawing on the clothes.

Karan Johar and Varun Bahl’s collection was inspired by New York. They have silhouetted the city’s distinctive skyline onto their menswear.And over at Rohit Bal, the devil is in the detail, with embroidered Angarkha-inspired coats competing with Mandarin-style wrinkled crossover jackets. There’s a reason that Bal, along with Tarun Tahiliani, Ritu Kumar, Wendell Rodricks and Anna Singh, is such a strong influence on the Indian scene and his clothes display that much-imitated sensibility time and time again.

One big international trend that we’re seeing Indian designers do this season is plaid. While a good houndstooth jacket is always a classic, internationally, menswear has gone one further this season, rolling out Western-style shirts, tartan hunting jackets and chequered shoes. Designers who’ve got this right are Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith, who has replaced his trademark strips with dark checks, but you could equally strike it lucky at such high-street names as Zara and Shopper’s Stop.

Among the Indian names, checks and Madras plaids are on Ashish Soni’s racks, while Bangalore boy Manoviraj Khosla sent out actor Kunal Kapoor in a rather daring silver-on-charcoal checked jacket that was rather a little too much for us, but will nevertheless find plenty of takers.

On the other hand, even as eco-fashion hits fatigue levels internationally, designers in India are still playing the green card. Inspired by the noble issue of deforestation and lamenting the dwindling bond between nature and man were designers Nikhil and Shantanu, who returned to a more classic silhouette with their collection for the new season which was grandly titled ‘The Death of a Tree’.

Working from a palette of grey, chocolate and brick red, they’re putting out an androgynous but finely textured line featuring skinny pants, classic achkans and bandhgalas, ruffled jackets and tunics.

It seems our darzis are also fascinated by what’s going on in men’s pants. Jodhpurs pop up in several places (including Rohit Bal, Rajesh Pratap Singh and the Jaipur duo Rohit and Abhishek), while Narendra Kumar Ahmed has gone for wide flares, Vijay Arora drops the crotches on his pants and Smit Raj Gyanani puts out gathered trousers. Samant Chauhan offers a gender-bending alternative by hanging out skirts instead, a response to clients who ask for something different, he said.

But the one item every well-dressed man needs in his wardrobe this fall? The bandhgala in some form. From Rohit Bal to Wendell Rodricks, almost every Indian designer has incorporated the jacket into his line for fall – but if you’re the sort of man for whom international is best, pop by Canali for their Nawab line, inspired by the maharajas of yore.

Dress it up like Shashi

Bridegrooms to be should take their wardrobe cues from former minister Shashi Tharoor. Rather than strut about like a preening peacock on the one day that nobody really can raise any objections to your behaviour or choice of dress, Tharoor chose to play it down, opting for a low-key wardrobe.

For the ceremony in Kollengode village, he chose the typical Malayali wedding outfit: white kurta and mundu. At his Dubai reception this week, he wore a simple black sherwani jacket, elegantly edged, tuxedo-style, in black satin. Handwoven fabrics and simple, clean styles proved the perfect fit for Tharoor’s strong personality.

“It was very exciting, because we were not trying to make a fashion statement here. He has such a strong personality that his inherent style had to be kept in mind. Less was more for him,” Mumbai designer Shaahid Amir said.

For the more adventurous Indian bridegroom, though, there were plenty of suggestions at a recent fashion weekend event. Rohit Bal, in particular, is the go-to designer if velvet jackets, bright pink kurtas and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink embellishments are your kind of thing. He does it well and tastefully, so you don’t end up outshining your wife – or looking like you raided her closet!

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