Fiction in Fashion

Alisha Shinde
Friday, 1 February 2019

Designers Sailesh Singhania and Punit Balana, who have found their muse in fictional characters, are displaying their collection at LFW on Sunday

When it comes showcasing their work on a fashion runway, designers look for inspiration everywhere — in the most common as well as uncommon places. Sailesh Singhania and Punit Balana, who are displaying their collections at Lakme Fashion Week Summer/ Resort 2019 this year, too have their unique inspirations and muses. 

The one thing that’s common to both the designers is that they have found their muse in fictional characters. 

Ahead of their show on Sunday, we caught up with the duo. Here’s more from them...

Singhania’s new collection ‘Shaahana — The Royal Glory’ features a combination of age-old materials like jamdani and khadi, and embellishing them with intricate motifs inspired by modern Japanese art, thereby bringing a plethora of cultures and traditions together and culminating them into one final creation.

The designer says, “Shaahana chronicles the regal splendour and beauty of an enchanting empress. My muse is Queen Gulnaar who is a fictional character drawn from Persian legends. Celebrated poetess Sarojini Naidu wrote about Gulnaar in the book, The Queen’s Rival.” 

The exquisite weaves, tissues and silken threads that adorned the queen, form the cornerstone of Singhania’ creations. “The woven motifs on each saree are an imagined amalgamation of Gulnaar’s prized possessions and experiences, the mesmerising blooms from her garden, the beaming rays of the sun and moon that shone through her palace windows, illustrious art by the most adroit artists and creatures as whimsical as her beauty,” says the designer. 

He adds that Naidu, who is called the Nightingale of India, was also an inspiration behind the collection. “Naidu’s indomitable spirit that fought for India’s freedom, drives us to preserve the languishing art of handloom,” says he. 

Talking about the challenges that he faced while bringing to life the legacy of Gulnaar, Singhania says, “It was quite challenging, because she is a rival to the queen. She has to show it through her attitude. Her attitude needs to reflect through the designs, so we constructed nature in the designs, like sun and moon rays and shikargah.” 

“This collection is a testament to our efforts in promoting sustainability. We strive to bring to the fore the sheer talent that our weavers possess. We believe in holistic, integrated fashion, focusing on not only the garment, but also on the weavers who help create them,” adds the designers, who works with 700 handloom weavers throughout the year. He says that he provides them with high quality materials and better conditions to thrive in. He also supports 22 different clusters including the weavers of Pochampally, Gadhwal, Uppada, Kota and Pranpur.

Punit Balana’s collection ‘Maya’ is an ode to the French novel Madam Bovary. “The free-spirited Maya sparks the inspiration behind the collection, which I wanted to stay true to its roots. I have mixed my signature block prints, using natural organic dyes, colours and eco-friendly techniques and sculptured shapes to create sartorial magic on the runway,” says Balana. 

Balana says that a distinct feature of Maya is that she wants to escape the banalities and emptiness of society life. “Modern, experimental and headstrong, the character broke the shackles of society to live on her own terms. Just like Maya the character, the collection has a lot of bold cuts, plunging necklines and quirky styles. The collection showcases accented chic silhouettes, with overarching focus on modern abstract prints in various renditions. They are paired together in a novel way,” he says. The designer adds that he has very creatively explored the contrast between linear shapes and fluid designs, creating silhouettes in Chanderi, silk and mulmul. “Exquisite yet powerful, the collection includes trench coats, wraparound skirts, crop tops, asymmetrical skirts and my signature saree with peplum jacket highlighted with subtle embroidery that combines style and comfort,” he says.

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