Feb 25, 2008
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Not just an Indian summer

Feb 25, 2008

PARIS, Feb 25, 2008 (AFP) - New Delhi-based fashion designer Manish Arora summed it up succinctly: "It's great to be an Indian right now. And I can tell you, Indians have a lot of money."

Manish Arora fall-winter 2008/2009 - Photo : Pierre Verdy/AFP

With the credit crunch and threatened recession in the United States and Europe, luxury fashion houses courting new customers in the boom nations of China and India may find that Asian designers are not willing to be outmanoeuvred.

Arora, when he became the first Indian to show in ready-to-wear week in Paris last season, made it clear this was no Indian summer: he intended to make it all year round in the world's fashion capital.

This weekend, as the shows for next autumn-winter got under way, he was joined by fellow countryman Rajesh Pratap Singh from Rajasthan, who developed his label in Italy but has now decided to show here.

"I have a lot of friends in Paris, my clothes are already sold here. It was only natural," he told AFP.

Both events created a buzz, indicating the likelihood that they will carve out more prominent spots in the calendar in future.

Arora was inspired by warrior women, drawing on costume through the ages and cultures from gladiators, medieval knights in shining armour and Samurai to futuristic gear straight out of "Star Wars".

His models wore fearsome face masks, all glinting sharp points, with gauntlets to the elbow and thigh-high boots.

Their lurex-spangled chainmail tunics and togas had 1980s power-dressing padded shoulders and double cap-sleeves, but exquisitely embroidered with witty designs by Japanese avant-garde artist Kelichi Tanami or even Walt Disney cartoons in Arora's signature garish fluorescent palette.

Floor-sweeping coats had giant faux-fur cuffs and trims, others were a patchwork of fake fur in yellow, dove and slate grey. Take away the masks and there were clothes with real chutzpah.

Rajesh Pratap Singh's offerings were lower key, but equally showcased the skills of needlework on the subcontinent. Dresses in matt black silk chiffon hugged the body with row upon row of ultra fine pintucks. Glove-soft leather was faintly embossed or figured with silver.

Deep cowl necklines on slinky satin shifts and bomber jackets, with flashy linings in crimson or purple silk, could be pulled over the head to form dramatic hoods.

Opaque black hose and clunky black patent high heels accessorised lacquered dresses, some with funky bands of silver foil at the hem, while trousers draped like jodphurs or sarouels, clingy and skinny, with lines of silver studs or zips as decoration.

by Sarah Shard

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