Holding Out for a Hero: Indian Menswear

I looked forward to seeing menswear at Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai because there is a stark cognitive dissonance in my perceptions of Indian masculinities. On one hand: Gandhi, Krishna, any Goa yoga instructor and other supremely spiritual beings. One the other hand: all the suave buff dancing action heroes of Bollywood. Yet on the other-other hand (oh the multidextrous Hindi folklore creatures and deities)… India is grappling with a heinous rape culture crisis: the number of reported sexual assaults rose tenfold since 1970s while half of male population now is under 30 years old. Amid collective soul-searching, it may be of interest to turn to Indian designers for any zeitgeist insights. Here are five summer-resort 2015 collections that echoed with Bonnie Tyler’s torch song lyrics: “Through the wind and the chill and the rain / And the storm and the flood / I can feel his approach / Like the fire in my blood”.

Antar Agni trusts the fabrics to enhance “an admirable aura” around the man. Seeing his soft pastel lines, I’d trust Antar Agni with my aura anytime.

Kunal Rawal went from Mumbai fashion week’s youngest debut to one of Bollywood’s most sought-after costume designers. The visual complexity of his looks leave no doubt as to why.

Manish Bansal turns to textile ornamentation for getting his colorful ideas across while Asmita Marwa ventured into menswear with a few NYC-inspired collage prints.

Raghavendra Rathore is a longtime champion of Indian menswear on the global scene continuously perfecting and modernizing the classics. Into my head his collection now settles as a sort of standard for future references.

Keeping my cultural myopia in mind, I count this as an informal informative first encounter. Check out my other Lakme Fashion Week notes on the fabulous Jatin Varma, the fun-tastic Quirk Box, and the Indo-Russian magic of Neha Agarwal. Also, the fine summer looks by Toronto’s Joao Paulo Guedes make even more sense now.


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