Rahul Mishra, invited as a ‘guest member’ by Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, reveals his latest couture collection today via a digital presentation as part of haute couture week.
The collection, which was inspired by a pre-pandemic family holiday to Santorini, was created as Covid-19 exacted a terrible humanitarian and economic toll on Mishra’s home country.
Mishra said that after a period of questioning the reason for creating a couture collection at all given the circumstance of the pandemic, it was the opportunity to support those who help create his collections that proved the decisive factor.
“That is when we realised the power of couture, for being able to engage, empower and encourage such large quantities of people — weavers, embroiderers, tailors and other artisans,” he said, adding that hundreds of Indian craftspeople were involved in the creation of this couture collection, a network his business has been able to support throughout the pandemic, even as they were forced to work from home for periods of time.
India’s karigars — a term for the highly skilled artisans who specialise in handicrafts like embroidery, beading and appliqué — have suffered terribly as a result of Covid-19. Not only has the pandemic put a pin in red carpet and cocktail dressing that necessitates the ornate garments karigars normally help create for luxury brands such as Dior, Gucci and Valentino, but their home country has been plunged into a humanitarian crisis this year, thanks to a devastating second wave of Covid-19 infections, just as much of the world begins opening up again to some semblance of normality.
In spite of these challenges, Mishra is also hopeful that the pandemic might also prove a turning point in more widespread consumer desire for slow fashion and greater awareness of the vulnerabilities of those who actually make fashion items.
“During the pandemic, consumers have developed an elevated sense of responsibility towards fashion and its contributors,” he said. “[More and more people are now] looking to invest in fashion that is supportive of those sections of the society that, while sustaining our local cultural heritage, also depend on it.”