FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week: Pandemic reunites Mumbai and Delhi fashion weeks online

The six-day virtual event will feature runway shows, short films and awards, as the two cities pool resources

A film on the making of The Hive by P.E.L.L.A, which was the winning design for a new initiative called The Spotlight, will be shown at FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week.
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Now that online-everything has become the new normal, why should the fashion world be any different? Taking their cues from New York, London, Milan and Paris, India's biannual fashion weeks, previously held in the cities of Mumbai and Delhi, are pooling their resources to get together for the first time since they split more than 15 years ago, for a digital-only showcase.

The FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week is from Tuesday to Sunday, March 16 to 21. Fashion lovers can watch the extravaganza of virtual runway shows by established and emerging designers across the country – shot in Delhi by the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) and in Mumbai by Rise Worldwide – live on the FDCI and Lakme Fashion Week websites and social media pages.

Here are some names and initiatives to look out for.

Anamika Khanna to open the show

Designer Anamika Khanna is a favourite among Bollywood's most fashionable stars, from Deepika Padukone and Kareena Kapoor Khan to Sonam Kapoor. Khanna produces ready-to-wear and bridal lines, as well as the diffusion label Ana-Mika, in her Kolkata studio and factory. Her design aesthetic leans on traditional Indian clothing with modern cuts and styling.

Khanna’s Timeless the World collection will open fashion week proceedings on Tuesday, and be presented jointly by FDCI and LFW on March 16. The line is “a collaboration of art and textile” with the message: “What is created will one day perish. What is left behind is legacy, and what matters most is what you do with it.”

A day dedicated to sustainable fashion

FDCI and Lakme have dedicated all the shows and presentations on Thursday, March 18, to sustainable fashion, where labels Chola, Huemn and Khanijo will feature a tribute, entitled All About India, to age-old artisanal techniques.

Elsewhere, catch a show by animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), the circular story of "peace silk" by Cocccon, and Payal Pratap and Ritu Kumar's sustainable creations.

This is the first time that a fashion week will be held online in India. Seen here, designer Payal Pratap 

Circular Design Challenge 3.0 – India’s largest sustainable fashion award – will be presented by R-Elan, a brand known for its high-tech and eco-friendly fabrics, in association with United Nations Environment Programme to one of six competing designers.

Indian designers with Middle East links

A number of the designers and labels participating at FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week retail in the UAE and other Middle Eastern markets, most notably Bollywood favourite Manish Malhotra, contemporary designer Masaba Gupta who recently launched her modern saris in Dubai and couturier Suneet Varma.

An outfit by Indian designer Suneet Varma, who will showcase his latest collection online as part of the FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week 

Other names you may recognise, who often retail and exhibit in the UAE, include: Geisha Designs by Paras and Shalini, Samant Chauhan, Nitin Bal Chauhan, S&N by Shantanu and Nikhil, Nidhi Yasha, Payal Singhal, Gauri & Nainika, Arpita Mehta and Pankaj & Nidhi.

Platform for young designers

The GenNext programme has introduced 200 designers to the industry since its inception in 2006. In keeping with its aim to identify and mentor young talent, the initiative will showcase collections by Kolkata’s Label Rahul Dasgupta and Raffughar by Delhi’s Wajahat Rather, on Wednesday, March 17.

On the same day, FDCI will present Bloni, an ethical luxury clothing brand by Akshat Bansal, as its Emerging Talent showcase of the season. Vibrant collections dreamt up by the young designers from the Pearl Academy fashion school will also be displayed on closing day.

Introducing the Spotlight

New to this year is a competition-based initiative called The Spotlight, which will highlight the work of Priyanka Ella Lorena Lama, of the label P.E.L.L.A. Lama was among six designers who interpreted the theme Utopia: A Designer’s Journey, in her participating entry.

The winning presentation, called The Hive, takes inspiration from the understanding of life in slow motion. Lama translated this into her design process through zero waste pattern-making and construction, following which she was awarded the equivalent of Dh25,000 to create a film that will be shown at fashion week.