Discover India's rising design talent
With Lady Gaga championing milliner Little Shilpa and the likes of Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry sashaying the red carpet in Manish Arora, India's fashion industry is hitting the big time.
On the eve of Lakmé Fashion Week, the country's premier fashion event, leading designer Aki Narula tells Relaxnews why there's a great deal more to get excited about.
Looking good has always been an integral part of Indian culture, and since the launch of Lakmé Fashion Week in 1999, the country's clothing industry has gone from strength to strength -- for the 13th edition Mumbai will welcome some 86 designers from across the country to present their Winter/Festive 2012 collections.
Nurturing homegrown talent has always been a key element of the event, and for the latest edition renowned designer and stylist Aki Narula -- whose collection was taken up by British store Selfridges after his Lakmé Fashion Week appearance in 2000 -- will be returning as a mentor for the Gen Next program.
"This is my fourth season now mentoring the Gen Next designers at Lakmé Fashion Week.
"What I have achieved today either in fashion or styling is all because of the Indian fashion industry. I think it is an invaluable experience that I am gaining in return by mentoring the future stars of our country," Narula told Relaxnews.
"It is the most important show for me, because it is my way of getting back to the fashion industry."
While Lakmé Fashion Week is now in its 13th edition, the Gen Next program, which invites designers from across the country to showcase their debut collections, is now in its seventh year.
This August designers including Mumbai's Aniket Satam, Kolkata's Sneha Arora and Kanpur's Kavita Sharma are among the debutants, all of whom Narula is fiercely proud of.
"It's very difficult to choose (a favorite) out of this batch of the Gen Next designers. It is literally like selecting one among your seven babies. The process from over hundreds of entries to these seven has been a special one. I think everyone has an originality of their own," he explains.
"We have a wide range and variety of creativity in each one, from a very Boho Traveller to someone who is greatly influenced by the north eastern region -- Asa (Kazingmei) whose creation is all black and red.
"We also have a little bit of studio 54 with white and blue, so it's very difficult to actually choose.
"I think everyone has got their fingertips on the right trends and everyone cuts their silhouettes right."
Aside from the Gen Next scheme, Narula cites Kallol Datta and Nimish Shah as two of his favorite contemporary Indian creators, praising the former for his "colors and silhouettes."
Keep up to date with live streams from Lakmé Fashion Week, which runs August 3-7 in Mumbai.