It wasn’t the familiar setting of the ballroom at the Taj Palace Hotel in the Capital, neither was it the familiar parade of ‘shaadi’ wear one is accustomed to at the India Couture Week (ICW). Pleasantly, day one of the 13th edition of the ICW was au courant — it was digital, it was virtual, it was democratic, and thanks to Gaurav Gupta it was also topical and relevant.
Gupta, the high priest of avant grade Indian fashion, set the tone and the pace for the week with an ode to “all forms of love”. His 12-minute cinema noir show, titled ‘Name is Love’, featured 18 models of different genders, body types, ethnicities and sexualities, showcasing 45 women’s wear and 20 men’s wear pieces of his 2021 couture collection.
The show featured Anjali Lama a trans-female supermodel, Tarun a non-binary model taking the forefront in International campaigns by owning his feminine and masculine side gracefully in front of the camera, Nitya a body positive woman, Vee a trans-male model effortlessly showcasing his true self, two boys in love with each other — Rudra and Anurag to two girls in love with each other — Manauti and Anjali, happily living-in with their parents.
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These are stories of today, these are stories you were never shown at a fashion extravaganza and these are the stories which need representation, both in fashion and in life.
Speaking about the idea behind the theme, Gupta said: “Love for inclusivity. There is a new wave of social change in India which has been exposed only in pockets but hasn’t received a mainstream platform — the campaign is meticulously curated in order to uphold authenticity and capture a true sense of rawness which is vulnerable yet utterly endearing at the same time.”
He added: “While we were casting, we discovered beautiful stories where differences and sexualities were not just accepted but celebrated. We were enamoured by these individuals’ sheer optimism; their experiences felt familiar yet bold and their stories needed to be heard. At Gaurav Gupta, we are honoured to represent their courage, their candor, their honesty and their interpretation of love in its most real form.”
Gupta stays true to both his style of juxtaposing fluidity with structure, shimmer with sheer and lots of drama. He calls it the “flight, form and freedom” an “obsession with infinity; wearable art couture.”
The designer, who is known for his love for sculpting, has reinvented his indigenous techniques in the form of structured wings, spiralling ruffles and architected waves. He uses glamorous shimmers, dramatic volume in jewel tones of red, blue, black and green.
The men’s wear, ‘A Pegasus In The Clouds’, includes bordeaux velvet suits, embroidered tuxes and futuristic Bandhgalas with sculpting techniques, embroideries and mystical motifs. Gupta said: “Shooting a campaign of this magnitude and especially at a time like such was not an easy job. We shot with 18 models, casting them was a deeper process. We delved into the pulse of new India, their lives and their stories. We visited each and every location with the advised safety protocols and detailed each and every element on the set, even the paint on the walls! It was an emotional journey for me and this project is very close to my heart as it calls out everything that the brand believes in — Love and Hope.”
He concludes: “We are celebrating all kinds of love, indeed a revolutionary and emotional moment to be seen and celebrated. In this process, we also discovered models from Jharkhand, Haryana and Assam who are oozing with potential and confidence to take over the International runway very soon.”
Gaurav Gupta’s video is supported by an original soundtrack composed by Sahil Vasudeva to which poetess Navkirat Sodhi has recited her composition ‘Name Is Love’.
In line with major fashion events across the globe, ICW 2020 is being held online and unlike ever before, it is open for viewing to the public starting this Friday. The annual event which sees India’s top fashion designers showcasing their couture collections, this time around is neither an ‘invite-only’ show nor does it have those larger-than-life sets; but it has all the drama! (IANS)