New Fashion Tales from India
India gave us the sari, the salwar kameez, the lengha. So what’s coming next?
“The Indian gown!” says Shirin Vinayak of Shehnaai Couture, who just got back from Lakme Fashion Week. “Indian fabrics, Indian embroideries and Western silhouettes seem to be the way to go, not only for the red carpet but also for reception wear as well.”
Gowns are all the rage with Bollywood stars like Katrina Kaif and Kareena Kapoor, as well as the Page 3 crowd in India, tricking down to young women in the metros. Vinayak is bringing that trend of the Indian gown in – “I feel like culturally that works for us here and so this is the first year that we have a full display of gowns on our rack.”
Shirin Vinayak, whose studio/showroom is in Manhattan, carries several noted designers from India and had a fun bash on the recent Fashion’s Night Out which is New York’s biggest free for all. It’s interesting to see Indian-Americans bringing their own special flavor to the night, and Vinayak had gathered happening people from the city including actors Ami Sheth and Purva Bedi, stand up comic Vidhur Kapur, singer Mitu Chilana and Das Racist rapper Himashu Suri aka Heems. The place was a-buzz with fashion mavens, music by DJ Insomnia, sweetened by wine and eats, and couture by designers from Vikram Phadnis to Rabani Rakha.
Shirin Vinayak, just back from the Lakme Fashion Week in India, answers 4 fashion-centric questions…
1. What to you is the most exciting thing about Fashion’s Night Out and what were the special things you did this year for your bash?
Fashion’s Night Out is a celebration of fashion. It’s a night to commemorate those that create fashion and those that love fashion. The South Asian contingent is a fairly new addition to this.
Last year, we were the first Indian fashion house to announce an FNO party and since then there have been more that have joined the bandwagon. The greatest accomplishment in this is that Indian fashion has finally been recognized.
Last year, we hosted a Fashion Show at the FNO party however this year the eye catcher for the night was a beautiful art display of Indian couture inspired by an English Garden.
2. Since you’re just back from India, what were the big fashion trends there?
Color blocking is still big in India. In prêt the trend is moving more towards natural fabrics like linens and cottons. The name of the game seems to be revival or Indian artisanship. In terms of bridal wear and heavy couture, velvets and nets are still the front runners. Laces are big, especially beautiful Chantilly lace.
While bling is still in, it is starting to get more elegant and pearls and the traditional zardozi in all its forms are making a big comeback.
The most noteworthy addition seems to be the entrance of the Indian Gown. Indian fabrics, Indian embroideries and Western silhouettes seem to be the way to go, not only for the red carpet any more but for reception wear as well.
3. Do you think all those fashion trends can be translated to the US or are you bringing only certain trends here?
Unfortunately in my 8 years of experience I have learnt that the US is about a year behind in picking up Indian trends. In addition to that, we are also a lot more practical in our choice. So while Chantilly in heavy lehngas is big in India, here we are a bit more skeptical since it is a very difficult to maintain fabric and needs a lot of TLC.
Similarly velvet is also not accepted easily since most weddings are in warmer months but in India it is huge. Also most weddings in India are typically in winter. So we are bringing in the trends, but not all. We have brought in lace and velvet but in smaller quantities. The trend we are bringing in is the gown. I feel like culturally that works for us here and so this is the first year that we have a full display of gowns on our rack.
4. Life in the US is so harried, with not a lot of time to dress in full Indian style. So who are your typical clients?
Our typical client is a bride or someone attending a wedding, gala event or holiday party. Essentially what we carry is event wear. While a majority of our client base is from the tri-state area, about 40% of it is from out-of-state. We do a huge contingent from the East Coast and some from the NE as well.
This year we’ve seen quite a few brides from as far as Australia and the Saudi Countries! We also get at least a third of our clientele from the mainstream which goes to show the new found respect for Indian couture.