Grace, femininity and allure perfectly describe Varun Bahl’s design aesthetics. Known for his mastery that brings together a renaissance of classical Indian aesthetics with modern sensibilities, Bahl has often put Indian couture in the international spotlight. Coming back to the runway, for FDCI’s India Couture Week 2022 Varun Bahl has his latest collection New Leaf with experimental silhouettes and elements of exotic flora and fauna. The collection plays on different textures with appliques such as feathers, sequins, and fabrics; we caught up with the designer to know more.
Give us a glimpse into what we can expect to see in your upcoming couture collection?
My new collection the ‘New Leaf’ plays on different textures with appliques such as feathers, sequins, and fabrics such as silks and velvet. Not only womenswear, this collection also explores menswear with vigour and inclination towards couture that resonates with the contemporary global mood towards fashion.
What is the inspiration behind your latest collection – New Leaf by Varun Bahl?
Every garment in the ‘New Leaf’ is inspired by the grandeur of the forest and showcases couture for both genders, in a fresh and fun manner. Having been inspired by the mystical forest, I have reinvented my classic upcycled patchwork embroidery, while also exploring a new direction of beads, gemstones, 3D embroidered flowers as well as leaves for my new collection.
Elaborate on the kind of techniques and colour palette used in the collection?
I have experimented with a lot of fresh silhouettes using elements from the rainforest, and of course, a hint of drama and fun. Along with my signature upcycled patchwork embroidery, this collection will also see appliques such as beads, gemstones, 3D embroidered flowers and leaves. You’ll find lehengas, gowns, asymmetrical dresses, ruffles and skirts with corsets, drapes sarees, jumpsuits, as well as more experimental silhouettes and the colour palette, plays with Old Rose, Pale Pink, Sage Green, Midnight Blue, Black, Dark Fuchsia, Red, Yellow, Burnt Lavender, and Ivory, all of which are ideal for the upcoming festivities no matter where you are in the world.
How do you envision the 2022 Varun Bahl bride?
New-age brides have started opting for more unique colour palettes, embellishments, and embroideries for the 2022 weddings. Today’s confident women are no longer looking at the traditional bridal attire, but opting for more modern, minimal and powerful looks.
Tell us about one piece we should look out for?
With ‘New Leaf’, I have put a spin on traditional Indian silhouettes while taking a leap forward from traditional wedding couture and exploring the new way in which global couture is moving. Hence, making for pieces that are not only experimental and international but also make for iconic collectables.
How does it feel to return to physical shows?
I am very excited to have physical shows back after the pandemic. I have waited quite a long time to get back to the physical format as we always love showcasing our collections physically to my audience giving us a chance to capture their reaction and make memories with the same.
Throw light on the new kinds of wedding silhouettes we can see in 2022.
I feel brides and grooms want a fusion between traditional and contemporary wear now. Earlier it was just a classic red lehenga for the bride and a sherwani for the groom. Now brides go for colours and different styles and so do grooms. I think all brides should be able to enjoy their wedding as much as their guests and that is why I truly believe in transformative attire. I also believe in going for something comfortable for the wedding so that there has to be no transformation.
What is the biggest change that the couture industry has faced in the post-pandemic world?
These have been testing times for everyone, yet our perseverance and positive attitude helped us get through it. The pandemic still saw a lot of weddings happening in our country, where the audience preferred placing orders digitally. Resuming sourcing in the post-pandemic world was a huge challenge, and I believe that getting the workforce back in action has also been a hurdle but one has to look at the positive aspects of it as well. The pandemic acted as a motivating factor for our team. It has brought us closer and driven us to be more focused on our goals.
How do you stay relevant in the ever-evolving world of fashion?
It’s the realization of the kind of designer I would like to be: more focused on celebrating India’s legendary crafts and ensuring employment for my family of artisans. I personally have restructured the way I work, especially post the pandemic, and strongly feel that it has allowed me to emerge stronger both in terms of my creative abilities and the growth of my business and brand.
How do you plan to pivot for a younger generation?
Our audience is heading towards Indian wedding wear and red carpet looks with a more global appeal, that breaks away from the conventions and rigidity of traditional couture. Even with my new collection, I am styling couture in a newer way, heading towards the direction of catering to the younger generations, and hence, reinventing the idea of couture completely, which is the need of the hour.