Designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil’s latest Spring/Summer collection The Tribe — The India Story is inspired by egalitarianism, a doctrine that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. In association with NEXA, the Mehra brothers recently showcased their collection at Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2018.
“As a brand that has been in existence for almost 18 years, we are now on a path of re-discovery with a more refined and cleaner second innings where modern independent India, nostalgia, egalitarianism and pride take centre stage in our design philosophy. Heroic re-appropriation of male presence through female form where feminine/masculine, hard/soft, defend/protect is the new direction for our brand and #Indiaonthemove ideology is our anti-trend take on couture in India where minimalism, austerity and defined drape forms challenge the trends of maximalism associated with tradition. The sartorial representation of India in its most contemporary avatar has become the cornerstone of the DNA of our brand,” says Shantanu.
The collection was inspired by androgyny, yet there were separate collections for men and women. But these collections had common elements — like the micro pleated fabric. Nikhil says, “As a brand, more so in the recent past, we have constantly challenged ourselves by ways of disruption and innovation. Our new SS18 line is nothing but a reiteration of our vision of belonging to something that is bigger than ourselves and its underlying spirit that symbolises egalitarianism and distinctiveness. We have, in the last one year or so, done some radical design shift in our designs by conceptually introducing strong modern India proud structure and drapes. This has, in fact, generated a lot of interest amongst the millennials wanting to feel strong, and yet be Indian in its most contemporary form of minimalism, so everything is noticeably Shantanu and Nikhil when it comes to silhouettes, drapes and structure even with this new line, only that it has become more patriotic chic in every step we take.”
Out of colour, in with style
“The final showcase inspired by monochromatic theme, however, is an amalgamation of the tribal with the urban, which mirrors the essence of the aspirational yet non-conformist India,” says Nikhil.
Talking about the tailoring techniques used, he says, “Each piece of this stylish yet elegant collection is represented by an earthy palette of warm hues, sharp tailoring, and dramatic accents. Influences of the tailoring techniques of India can be clearly seen through layered pleating, bold colour blocking, long line cape structures, reinterpreted drapes and aged textures. Coherent jewellery surfaces with elements of tassels and tape are interwoven to break away from any rigid categorisation of gender.”
Capes and drapes for men
The mens wear, in hues of black, white and chrome, feature capes and capelets, sharply cut coats, bandhgala jackets with draped kurtas, bundies, sherwanis with four patch pockets and double-breasted Jodhpuri jackets, some with discreet print. This makes us wonder whether capes and drapes for men will make its way off the fashion ramps and into the streets anytime soon, or will it take much more convincing for them to try new silhouettes. Shantanu answers,
“Silhouettes and drapes have always been the mainstay for all things contemporary for Shantanu and Nikhil. We see a remarkable difference in how men are more willing now than ever to experiment with silhouettes and fits, softer shapes and cleaner lines without falling into this clotheshorse trap. There is an expected role reversal as the focus will strongly be on the wearer from now on and not the designer as has always been the case in Indian wedding and occasion couture.”
He adds that unconventional and lightweight silhouettes like the trench coat-inspired capes with a hint of vintage India interwoven with smart play of minimalism and modernity will keep the occasion and the wearer sartorially simple and make them stand out from a crowd with their new-age virtues.