Functional fashion

Anjali Jhangiani
Monday, 11 February 2019

Celebrated designer-duo Shivan and Narresh talk about marrying functionality with fashion for their latest collection called the Patu Series that is inspired by the indigenous art forms of Bengal, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh

Credited for reimagining swimwear, Indian designer duo Shivan Bhatia and Narresh Kukreja have had their hands full lately. The last year was a good one for them in terms of having their designs worn by various celebrities for important occasions. “We got the opportunity to dress up the famous reality TV personality and influencer Kim Kardashian West in our Vermillion Bikini Sari for Vogue India’s March cover story last year. We also had the honour of dressing global icon Oprah Winfrey in the Shivan & Narresh Koi Black Shift Dress as she graced the December issue of Elle India. We closed 2018 by dressing global icon Beyoncé Knowles-Carter in Shivan & Narresh Bejewelled Swimsuit from Koi Series for her performance in Udaipur,” says Shivan, adding, “Closer home in Bollywood, it’s always been great to dress up celebrities like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Kajol, Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Kriti Sanon and Chitrangada, to name a few.”

At the recently held Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2019, Shivan and Narresh launched their latest collection called the Patu Series, for which Vani Kapoor stirred the ramp as the showstopper in a cocktail dress with ruffles. The new collection features six new prints inspired by the indigenous art forms from the belt of Bengal, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh on free-flowing fabrics by R | Elan specially engineered to provide a perfect blend of functionality and fashion. “The Patu Series captures the sublime elements of Bengal’s Pattachitra art and connects with the intrinsic Tholu Bommalata leather puppetry of Andhra Pradesh. The narrative intricacies of Hindu mythological characters have been craftily displayed through the vibrant translation on the ‘patt’ or the canvas of Pattachitra and leather surface of Tholu Bommalata. To conform with the familiarity of the art form, the ‘patt’ has set the foundation of the series name, thus painting a picture of a tribalesque yet contemporary universe of apparel and accessories,” says Narresh. 

A vital aspect of the collection is the new-age fabrics used to make it. “We have improvised advanced textures and created refreshing silhouettes tailored into each ensemble with a special range of fabrics. It’s a mix of organza, crepe, rayon combined with inventive construction techniques. We have signature skeinwork with delicate organza, ruffles with flowy fabrics and frayed raffia, among others, to create a decadent holiday universe for millennials,” describes Shivan.
Moving away from fresh colours, the label shifts towards a darker area on their colour palette. “Our signature prints of the season are illustrated effectively on the key ensembles against a colour palette of rosh (deep vermillion), indigo, slate (black), pepe (peach), som (amber) and wheat (flesh). The Patu Series swimwear illustrates a range of innovative silhouettes in maillot, bikini and trikini to run in tandem with the bold, confident and sophisticated lifestyle of the millennials. A series of inventive techniques like smocking, ruffles, signature skeinwork and pearl-embellishments are uniquely manifested on each style to create a sensual attire,” says Shivan. 

The duo emphasises on how this collection is an explicit concoction that meets the lifestyle aspirations of millennials. “As a brand, Shivan & Narresh caters to the decadent holiday lifestyle of millennials who understand that luxury today stands more for experiences than just tangible products. With travel being the crux of the brand, every piece that is offered, attempts to make their lives an experimental fashion escape in the form of holidays, destination weddings and honeymoons. Millennials look for matured selections that offer durability and can easily be worn by holiday goers to lounge by the beach or a pool, or translate it into a glamorous resort bikini saree that can be styled from beach to bar, and cocktails to destination weddings,” shares Shivan. 

They talk about how they have noticed a pleasant change in the scenario where Indians have become more accepting towards swimwear, which is the designer-duo’s forte. Narresh says, “When the brand had started, we did witness resistance as a lifestyle of swim and resort wear had always been a distant Western dream. There was a lack of acceptance and awareness of swimwear in the country. It was difficult to penetrate the Indian mindset and the market. But with the opening of international barriers and a booming holiday industry, travellers are increasingly looking forward to be at par with the sartorial choices as that of their contemporaries, hence have adopted a healthy and much needed swim lifestyle.”

The designer duo diss the concept of a ‘swimsuit body’ and share how they have always been intrigued by the uniquely-blessed Indian body type. “The distinct figure with relatively smaller torsos, fuller busts and hips, make Indian bodies particularly look fabulous in a swimsuit. Indians are blessed with curves and have gorgeous body types such as apple, pear and hourglass. We believe the focus should be more on highlighting the body strengths rather than hiding them. There is no such thing as a ‘swimsuit body’, it’s all in the mind of the person who is wearing the swimsuit. Our idea is simple — to make the Indian women recreate around water again by infusing a sense of confidence in their body type while being in touch with their sensuality,” says Shivan.

The designers have a store each in Gurugram, Mumbai, Surat, Kolkata and Chennai, and they just launched a bigger and better flagship store in DLF Emporio, New Delhi, this month. “Also, we are determined to invest our creative energies for our upcoming projects for Shivan & Narresh Celebrations and Shivan & Narresh Homes. We aspire to continue fulfilling visual and functional expectations of our customers, by weaving our design sensibilities with their evolving needs. There are also a few exciting collaborations and projects scheduled for the year, details of which we will unveil soon,” ends Narresh.

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