The much-anticipated Lakme Fashion Week X FDCI 2023 has kicked off in spectacular style, with a stunning array of fresh, innovative designs on display from a host of exceptionally talented designers. On day one, the GenNext collection took centre stage, introducing us to three promising labels: No Grey Area, Sonam Khetan and Triune. GenNext serves as the perfect platform for up-and-coming designers to unveil their creative genius and vision to the world.
Among these three labels, No Grey Area truly captured my attention with its distinctive, contemporary reimagining of the saree, an ancient garment once adorned by both men and women. Fashion Designer Arnav Malhotra's No Grey Area stands as a modern-day casual wear brand that breathes new life into traditional silhouettes while preserving the exquisite artistry of Indian craftsmanship.
Titled "An Inconvenience Today for a Better Tomorrow," the collection drew its inspiration from a common Indian phrase often heard at the country's bustling construction sites. This theme beautifully underscored the brand's commitment to zero-waste construction and pattern-making, as well as its dedication to sustainable practices. The collection showcased the use of organic materials such as silk, cotton, and viscose, paired with sustainable dyeing and printing methods like the intricate art of block-printing and traditional hand embroidery techniques like aari.
The collection's silhouettes and fabrics took their cues from the saree, incorporating elements of draping, pleating, and wrapping. Additionally, it artfully integrated prints from SS23's Pravah collection, inspired by the five elements of nature in Indian mythology. These prints featured kolam designs, which are geometric patterns traditionally drawn at the entrances of homes in India to channel positive energy. The prints were elegantly presented as block prints, embroideries, and jacquards on the garments.
The colour palette found its roots in the memories of chipped, vibrant paint adorning the homes of old Madras, continuing to stand tall on its historic streets. From pink, yellow, green, and blue to timeless black and white, the collection offered a vibrant spectrum of colours. Novelty fabrics such as cotton dutel with NGA's distinctive kolam monogram, cotton irregular jacquard knitted jersey, and lightweight materials like silk georgette, silk mesh, and tencel and linen blends added depth and variety.
This collection was truly gender-inclusive, designed to be versatile and functional, allowing for easy mix-and-match styling. Models graced the runway in statement pieces like draped jackets, wrap skirts, pleated pants, asymmetric tops, jumpsuits, and dresses. The addition of accessories such as sneakers, sunglasses, belts, and bags only enhanced the urban and contemporary essence of the collection.
No Grey Area's collection presented a refreshing, modern reinterpretation of the saree. It celebrated India's rich heritage and culture while also resonating with a global audience. It serves as a perfect example of how fashion can be a medium for self-expression and conveying a message, all without sacrificing style or sustainability.