March is officially the month of fashion and the fashion capitals bear testimony to that. Just as we bid our seasonal goodbyes to Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai, next in line the capital city is playing host to Wills India Fashion Week.  It is known to present designers with new yardsticks that put them on the global map.

With names like Tarun Tahiliani, Malini Ramani and, Abraham & Thakore to name a few, Wills is where the real deal happens. Day 1 of WIFW A/W’14 saw a grand line-up. From romantic roses to sequined suits and symmetrically slit dresses with occasional stargazing, the opening day of the fashion week was more than a handful. Here are the designers we rooted for…

He’s known to be extravagant in terms of his creations as well as set design when it comes to his shows. This time was no exception. Tarun Tahiliani presented the audiences with his royal gold rush collection. A grand and opulent set with circular designs saw the models sashaying the ramp in belted kaftans, brocade blouses, intricate peplum jackets and floor-length anarkalis. Keeping the usual high-end drama that his creations are known to be, this season saw a lot of contemporary elements added to traditional creations in terms of his pairings as well as experimenting with 3-dimensional prints.

We loved the sheer Pashmina wraps with detailed thread embroidery as much as the Grecian looking draped pants which were well accessorized with kamarbandhs and studded hair bands giving it a touch of elegance-meets-quirky. A gorgeous Shilpa Shetty walked the ramp for her favourite designer as showstopper in a tiered lehenga paired with an off-shoulder blouse and a layered gold neckpiece. Actors Ayesha Khanna and Harman Baweja accompanied her as they joined hands for the acclaimed designer.

Known for her eclectic inspiration in an attempt to revive the ancient hand-printing techniques of India, designer Anupama Dayal of ‘Anupamaa’ showcased ‘Kama’, a collection inspired by Mira Nair’s Kamasutra. Though it was ceremoniously a bridal collection, it was a far cry from the conventional image that one would construe. The designer who has set up retail stores across US, Europe and even Australia picks up on nomadic cultures with a strong sense of tradition, which is deeply Indian- that’s what her forte is.

From oranges, reds to shades of vermillion and canary yellows, there was a splash of colour in lehenga-cholis complete with drapes over the head, maang-tikka and mehendi. Fabrics like brocades, chanderi, zardosi and pearl embroidery were used in combination with metallic tassles, bandhini and coin studded cholis. The cholis were kept short which seemed clean and contemporary.

Rakesh Agarwal, the designer who is known for his bold and edgy designs was inspired by S&M, bondage and showcased unabashedly the wilder side of femininity for his WIFW A/W collection. Latex, leather and tassels in the form of layered chains and neck braces graced the catwalk. Most of the outfits exhibited strong tastes of maximalist attitudes. However, even the fully sheer gown with thigh-high slit and metallic work was styled to depict utter minimalism, which made his collection stand out. Think body suits, thigh-high studded boots complete with tassels and fringes made for a risqué yet appealing collection.

Catering rightly to the modern, stylish, chic and effervescent youth of urban India, designer duo Shantanu & Nikhil, are popular for both men’s and women’s wear couture. Their concept of east meets west was the biggest highlight of the day amongst all shows. It was classic, subtle and regal with tones of modernism. Their show ‘Shadows Within’ stemmed from architectural nostalgia that existed prior to independence.

We saw a mix of off-whites, pale pinks, dusty rose, reds and chocolate browns which were beautifully put together in layered frocks, straight-cut gowns meshed together with drapes and organza details. It was the finesse and attention to detail, which gave us a fresh and modern take on menswear. Drapes were a prime part of the collection and were seen on kurtas worn with fully buttoned Nehru jackets with details of embroidery showed the evolution of menswear in the industry. Overall, dapper, elegantly tailored and classic is how best their collection can be described.

Kiran Uttam Ghosh and Vineet Bahl also showcased their collections while designer Rina Dhaka wrapped it up with her usual interplay of monochrome prints on silk, satin and sheer fabrics. The first day has us leaving the venue with high expectations. Can the days that follow keep up? Well, we will know shortly.

By Shweta Ganesh