Indian designers go back to their roots as retro-chic rules

Chandi Dharmaratne

NEW DELHI, April 2, 2010 (AFP) – Raw silk, cotton, jute — India’s traditional fabrics are finding favour among top designers raring to break new ground in the highly competitive Indian fashion market. The tendency to ape Western cuts and style in recent years has seen the country’s own rich craftsmanship take a backseat.

But a reversal in the trend was evident at this year’s Wills India Fashion Week, where classic couturier Tarun Tahiliani marked the return to traditional craft with hand-made Indian fabrics and embroidery in his signature draping style.

“I consciously used Indian fabric. I feel we’ve been a little too Western,” Tahiliani said after his show at the event, one of the two most prestigious events on the Indian fashion calendar.

Tahiliani’s theme at the show was “Return to The Craft” highlighting qualities that he said had been lost in the “hyper-explosion of brands, stores, distribution and price wars”.

In keeping with his theme, the designer showcased gilets (sleeveless jackets) over tiny T-shirts, sarongs and his trademark sari drapes held together by embroidered belts.

Tahiliani, whose previous shows had a more international flavour, is not alone in his