PARIS, France — Parenthood is a precious thing, a real-world phenomenon that arrives so rarely in a fashion designer’s life, if at all. The Indian designer Rahul Mishra just welcomed his first child to the family too, and admitted backstage that it had taken him away from the office more so than he had expected — and allowed him to notice simple beauty in places he hadn’t looked before.
For Autumn 2016 that included the ornamental and domestic nuances of the home, from ornate motifs of Chinese porcelain to the delicate array of Indian floral textiles that nuanced this collection with exquisite embroideries and prints by way of the age-old Bhandini dyeing technique (he applied it here to organza — a world first).
The shape and decoration of tablecloths informed a great number of his floating silhouettes — their square-cut patterns hanging in handkerchief points from silk blouses, draped-back jackets and cocktail dresses with a structured shoulder. After taking home the 2013/14 Woolmark prize, Mishra has deftly integrated fine wool threads into his work, and here they appeared in the painstaking handwork of knotted embroidery as entire surfaces were picked out in thousands of single dots revealing dahlia or lotus flowers in the curls of negative space.
Neoprene was a new material for Mishra, its dense and sculptural quality allowing cotton appliqué to truly ‘pop’ across pleated skirts in a way that modernised the crafty aspect of his work — something that has a tendency to skew traditional when coupled with his softer, sari-style draping.
Searching for newness is clearly not this designer’s raison d’étre, nor should it be, as he rides a local wave of popularity that has of late spilled over into international waters (recent stockists include Colette in Paris, and Harvey Nichols in London). That said, a clearer definition of his silhouette may prove fruitful — at times it erred in a sportier, tailored direction that didn’t do justice to his potential as a new player in the bourgeoning market for artisanal eveningwear.