Sunday, November 9, 2014

Autumn on the Eiffel Tower

From The Hindu, October 22, 2014:
Autumn on the Eiffel Tower

Sangeetha Devi Dundoo

Designer Shilpa Reddy. Photo: special arrangement

Shilpa Reddy to present a line using hand-woven malkha fabric in Paris

Designers from 10 different countries, each with a collection that represents their culture and heritage, showcased at an architectural marvel makes for a winning fashion extravaganza. The forthcoming J-Autumn Fashion Show at Eiffel Tower on October 31 follows in the series of unique shows organised by Jessica Minh Anh.
Shilpa Reddy is the only designer invited from India. “When I received the first email, I thought it was a prank, just another random spam that comes into the inbox. A few emails later, I knew this was serious. They had researched my work and were keen to have me on the show,” says Shilpa.
The outfits have been couriered to Paris and Shilpa is taking a short breather, before packing her bags and leaving to France. “Every designer dreams of showing in Paris. I worked on the outfits until I was satisfied and with each the design evolved each time,” she says, looking forward to the window of opportunities this show will open up, both nationally and internationally.
Keeping with the theme of the show, to give a contemporary edge to a collection that will characterise ethnic weaves, Shilpa chose the springy, breathable hand-woven malkha fabric. A fabric that’s predominantly considered to be summer friendly, Shilpa says, has a unique capability of keeping the wearer warm in winter. “I once wore a malkha shawl on a flight when it was really cold and was surprised how warm it kept me. For this collection, we are speaking of autumn in Paris. So I doubled-lined the fabric,” she explains.
Outfits designed by Shilpa have mostly veered towards structured silhouettes and she reasons, “Whether I design jackets or blouses, I like them to be structured and the fabric shouldn’t be slouchy.” For the J-Autumn Fashion Show, he has put together 16 ensembles, with some of the looks having many layers. “It could be a skirt, top and a bolero jacket; then there are palazzo pants and long trailing jackets,” she says.
The collection keeps in mind the sensibilities of a global audience while using vegetable-dyed fabrics in mustard, black, indigo blue and maroon with copper, silver and gold Indian embroidery.
Apart from being selected for the show, a morale booster came from three of her outfits being used for the international promotions of the show. “Jessica also asked if she could wear one of my outfits to attend Manish Arora’s show at Paris Fashion Week. I was flattered. She also complemented me on the extremely good finishes of the garments,” beams Shilpa. One trademark of Shilpa’s lines has been immaculate finishes. “A number of people have asked me why I care so much about the finish and if an outfit has to be altered, would I redo the finish. Of course I will. A finish says so much about the designing,” she states.
Hand-woven fabrics come with their own little imperfections, be it in the weave or the tendency to bleed some colour. Shilpa says, “I love the imperfections that come with anything handmade, which shows the manpower and skill that went into it against a factory-made fabric. And when we talk of a high-fashion line, buyers are definitely going to dry clean the outfits, so there isn’t a need to worry.”
The J-Autumn Fashion Show
Conceptualised by fashionista Jessica Minh Anh, the show will have a two-tiered outdoor 150-metre catwalk across the first floor of Eiffel Tower. She has previously organised fashion shows at Grand Canyon skywalk (USA), London’s Tower Bridge, Petronas Twin Towers’ sky bridge (Malaysia), Costa Atlantica (Dubai) and Seine River (Paris).


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