Think Indian fashion designers in the West and Manish Arora’s is the first name that comes to mind, followed by many others who are not a house-hold name at the moment or as celebrated, but possess enough originality and vision to have been noticed by the world’s fashion industry. India’s contribution to world fashion is now beginning to garner attention and is escalating to levels unknown to many.

For someone who counts popstars like M.I.A., Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj as his clients, with Kanye West attending his fall 2011 show, Mr Arora has certainly come a long way. The designer, who has showcased eight collections in Paris, likes to exemplify Indianness through his creations in a bold manner. He produced a more understated collection for Paris fashion week this fall compared to his previous designs. Though still magnificently audacious, it was more mature and low-key by Mr Arora’s standards. However, true to his signature style, it was bright and colourful, yet displayed structured and lady-like garments, made with Indian fabrics and infused with indigenous embroidery and motifs.

With eight seasons showing at Paris under his belt, his recent appointment as Paco Rabanne’s creative director comes as no surprise. Mr Arora retails to a loyal clientele by selling his collections through flagship stores in India and is stocked at over 75 stores all over the world. He also retails online via fashion websites and intends to continue his namesake label while helming the French fashion house of Paco Rabanne. Mr Arora has touched heights unknown to many Indian designers and seems more than ready to take on the role and the responsibilities that come with it. His latest move goes on to demonstrate the fact that Indian designers are now at a stage where their work is not only noticed, but is given due appreciation and is held at par with that of designers in the West.

Another Indian designer who has created a stir in the West is Ashish Gupta. Born in Delhi, he goes by his first name and is the go-to designer for sportswear with a twist. For someone who has a weakness for sequins and sportswear—a bizarre combination—Ashish has managed to catch the eyes of fashion icons such as Victoria Beckham, Jerry Hall and none other than Madonna herself.

Ashish’s love for sequins comes through displays of his creations on various personalised blogs, where he is a regular fixture. The designer, who blends Eastern and Western cultures, produces an “eccentric and unique collection with a mix of sportswear, high-octane glamour and breathtaking craftsmanship”, according to his biography. He has also collaborated with Topshop not once, but twice. M.I.A., the London-born popstar, is another fan of Ashish’s creations and was not only present at the preview of his fall collection at the London fashion week, but was also blaring through the speakers as models sashayed down the runway in his latest collection of Camden-inspired punk designs.

To have the legendary Iris Apfel attend your fall show in New York is quite a feat, and Naeem Khan has accomplished that. And much more. Born in India, Mr Khan watched his family design opulent garments for the royal families for generations before he moved to the US and developed his own aesthetic vision. Today Mr Khan is dressing American royalty. Mr Khan counts America’s first lady, Michelle Obama, as one of his most prolific clients, along with Beyoncé Knowles, Eva Longoria as well as Queen Noor of Jordan. Mr Khan’s creations are luxuriously divine and frequently seen on the red carpet.

Mr Khan’s latest collection at the New York fashion week comprised of intricately-embroidered lush gowns in black and red, while others in pastels were more understated with delicate embroidery. But Mr Khan’s collection was not just about simplicity, it also had opulent gowns adorned with ostrich feathers and several other showstoppers that one can be sure of seeing on red carpets in the near future.

Though not an Indian by nationality, Prabal Gurung, a Singapore-born designer, who studied at New Delhi’s National Institute of Fashion Technology, is scaling new heights. While studying in India, he apprenticed with Mr Arora before moving to New York, where he interned under Donna Karan and moved on to study design at Parsons. In 2010 he was nominated for the CFDA Swarovski Womenswear Award and was awarded runner up for the 2010 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. He was also chosen by prominent fashion editors, retailers, designers and business people for the CFDA Fashion Incubator for 2010-12.

Another designer to be found in the CFDA Fashion Incubator is Waris Ahluwalia. He showcases jewellery inspired by “love, history and forms found in nature.” Incidentally, his eponymous label, known as House of Waris, began by pure luck. The owners of one of the most lavish boutiques in New York, Maxfield’s, noticed Mr Ahluwalia’s elaborate rings as he happened to visit the store and placed an order to have similar ones delivered within a week. As the rings sold out and garnered media attention, Mr Ahluwalia christened his venture “House of Waris.” Very soon Mr Ahluwalia had opened workshops in Italy and India and as the House of Waris gained momentum, his collections became more sought-after. The rest, as they say, is history.

Posted by : Saanya Khanna at 11:24 AM