Tsarina of Hyderabad: Neha Agarwal

I could not just glance this over. I had to zoom-in and let it swirl around my brain, seeping into my heart and elsewhere the bloodstream carries my Russian cultural DNA. You see, matryoshka dolls was the last thing I expected to encounter at Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai. Yet there they were, elaborately framed and 69-ing ad infinitum across the summer fashion universe of Neha Agarwal. Inspired by Russian fin-de-siècle and the twilight of tsardom, the designer did exceptionally well by her bold artistic credo: “a mélange of historic influences, contemporary silhouettes and opulent ornamentation creating Indo-western fusion fantasy with a vintage essence.” This is fashion as cultural diplomacy. Sure, the matryoshka move itself is pop-pop-populist, but well executed. The rest of the sumptuous collection is a confident study in synthesis of complex Slavic and Hindi graphics heritage. To my subjective eye and inquisitive mind, this creative effort by Neha Agarwal is a welcome rare contribution to the Indo-Russian intercultural tradition going back to the phenomenal legacy of Nicholas Roerich. Y’all gotta wiki-google who that is. Like, seriously, right now. Do it.

P.S. If anyone ever manages to wear this on a visit to the Roerich Museum in New York City, I’ll salute you real hard and owe you a beverage of your choice!

P.P.S. Check out my notes on more Indian designers at Lakme Fashion Week, including the stunning Jatin Varma and the fun-tastic QuirkBox!

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