Perhaps one of the more surprising things about Rahul Mishra’s show was that it was one of the few showcases at India Couture Week 2018 that forwent the use of a showstopper. The scene before the start of the show was idyllic—the designer and his team were set up well ahead of their time slot, the main show area was covered in foliage, the clothes were steamed and the models were completely at ease—if you’re a regular at fashion week, you know this is not a regular phenomenon. Backstage, Mishra got into the details of the title of his collection, ‘Maraasim’. “In Urdu, Maraasim means relationships. I tried to look back at connections between the past and present. How what was once considered beautiful still affects us. There was also a thought about how the indoors is connected to the outdoors,” he explained.
Mishra is known to go heavy on the research with his work. For this season, the designer deep dived into a study of visual history starting from when the Mughals invaded India. “I thought about this contradictory time in history when the Mughals arrived and the cross-pollination of ideas that took place because of it,” he explains. “They brought in geometry from Persia when we’re all about natural forms and the resulting design exploration that it brought about in our structures. Similarly some of the earlier miniature paintings bore a resemblance to Pichwai paintings.” It’s clear—a myriad of what remains of the visual cultural history from late 16th and 17th centuries took over Mishra’s moodboard for his latest collection.
These references translated to stunning garments on the runway that were meticulously laboured over for five months; some even took nearly 4,000 hours in production. For visual cues, Mishra looked at one piece of architecture in particular—The Tomb of Asif Khan in Lahore, Pakistan, which was commissioned by Emperor Shah Jahan. “The Taj Mahal is the showstopper, so no one looks at this tomb,” he jokes.
The story behind how the collection came about may be compelling, but what’s most endearing about Mishra’s narrative are the clothes themselves. With or without the knowledge of his references, you would still fall for them. The lineup went from soft pastels to ivory and a few pops of colour like sunset orange and bold red. Chanderi, organza, chikankari embroidery, signature 3D appliqué, resham threadwork all sat comfortably next to each other. There was something for everyone here—cocktail dresses, light saris, kurtas worn over lehengas and of course, bridal lehengas. In what was clearly a season of firsts, the designer used Swarovski crystals in the most understated way to add sparkle to his clothing—an addition that Rahul Mishra brides would be happy with. And keeping with the theme of innovation, the designer debuted menswear this season as well.
At the close of the show, the names announced were Rahul and Divya Mishra. Other than being the founder and director at Rahul Mishra, Divya, the designer’s spouse, has been his aid, confidante and support system since the inception of the label, and he didn’t want his wife’s work to unnoticed. “She does so much here; we are nothing without her,” he says. Needless to say, the audience clapped even harder out of respect at the show. For a collection about relationships, this truly did make for the most befitting end.
Swipe through our slideshow for a complete look at Rahul Mishra’s India Couture Week 2018 collection now.