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Denise Grayson, a fashion designer from UK, reports on Indian style and embroidery adorning the global runways of high fashion.



The vibrant colours, luxurious silks and exquisite embroidery of traditional Indian clothing haven't gone unnoticed in the world of high fashion. Every season there are at least a few designers at each of the four major fashion weeks around the globe - New York, London, Milan and Paris - showing India-inspired collections. Some seasons we even see a full-on trend where the Indian look dominates the runways as part of what is referred to by fashion editors as 'ethnic' style.

It's not just the look, but also the fabrics and skilled artisan work that come from India. India is one of the world's biggest manufacturers of silks, providing fabric for clothing manufacturers and fashion houses around the world. Its talented embroiderers are also regularly called on to add beauty to everything from handbags to dresses.

Specific examples of India-inspired clothing include the 'kaftan', currently the most sought-after item for beachwear. Just about every major designer has created their own version for spring/summer and what is referred to as the 'resort season', for customers who travel to hot destinations throughout the year. These light and airy robes in beautiful hues and silks are well-suited for the beach and therefore sold as luxurious cover-ups for swimsuits. However, many of the designs can also be worn as day-wear.

Some are made quite simply while other designers use generous embellishments from India and adorn their work with fine embroidery. North Americans particularly like the ease and elegance of the kaftan style and their devotion to it in recent years suggests that it's less of a passing trend and more of an enduring preference.

As for Indian prints, most designers like to feature at least a few of them in their seasonal collections and some focus primarily on creating their own original prints inspired by a variety of techniques. Not surprising then that batik is a popular choice as the technique lends itself to a vast array of exotic and vibrant combinations. It is a popular and easy way to add Indian flair to a woman’s wardrobe.

If India-inspired style wasn't already in fashion, the hugely successful film 'Slumdog Millionaire' created a major trend in the streets as well as Hollywood, where the star of the film, Frieda Pinto, has become a fashion icon. Before this, the growing popularity of Bollywood films and the extraordinary beauty of actresses such as Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan bolstered the appeal of Indian style, showcasing its best fashion in a glamorous light.

Let's also not ignore the presence of India's homegrown talent such as Sabyasachi and Manish Arora on the New York and London catwalks, respectively. Their designs fuse traditional elements with those from western culture, particularly true of Sabyasachi's recent collections shown outside of his homeland. Manish's designs are however much more theatrical. His circus-inspired shows and fantastical creations such as his merry-go-round dresses are a welcome escape from the more straightforward presentations. It seems safe to say we can expect fashion's love affair with Indian dress to be a long and fruitful one!
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