March 19, 2009 / 7:36 AM / 10 years ago

Recession the fashion at major Indian couture show

NEW DELHI (Reuters Life!) - India’s biggest fashion event started on a dark note in New Delhi with designers using the global recession and emotional depression to set a somber trend for their autumn/winter collections.

Models display outfits designed by Gunjan and Rahul during a fashion show on the first day of India Fashion Week in New Delhi March 18, 2009. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Models draped in black, grey and deep purple sashayed down the catwalk at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, a five-day event in which 103 designers vie for the attention of 175 domestic and international buyers.

“We are in the heart of recession, and it’s fashionable,” said designer Kiran Uttam Ghosh, whose “Frugality is the new Black” collection was inspired by the global downturn.

“I’ve combined high-street cheap leggings with luxe jackets, T-shirts with luxury shawls,” she said. “You can be frugal, sensible, spend less and yet you can be fashionable.”

Designer Nitin Bal Chauhan’s “Condition Apply Part II” showed the underbelly of fast urban life, especially in India’s capital, in a follow-up to an earlier collection.

Models acted out themes such as vanity, divorce and depression on stage wearing predominantly grey pleated dresses, trousers and skirts.

“It’s inspired by the urban life, the flip side of urban life far removed from the glowing city life,” said Chauhan, who added he is influenced by TV and newspaper stories of urban misery.

Models wore headgear made from junk such as spectacles, which the designer said represented lonely senior citizens left behind in a bustling city, or a study lamp, in reference to students who commit suicide because of work and social pressures.

The show ended with a masked robber strangling a model sitting on a rocking chair.

Chauhan also wove gloom from the recession, which has dented India’s recent economic boom, into the designs.

“If you look at my shirts, they are asymmetric, and parts of the shirt is missing. Part of the cuff is missing, part of the collar is missing, so recession will definitely have an impact on my collection,” he said.

“All my headgear are made of junk,” Chauhan added. “In times of recession things that you put aside certainly hold meaning.”

Editing by Matthias Williams and Miral Fahmy

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