Despite women being considered more closely associated with the world of fashion than men, the latter have been favoured in the realm of fashion designing. According to a report published by McKinsey and Company in 2018, less than 50 percent of well-known women’s wear brands are designed by women, and only 14 percent of major brands have a female executive in charge.
Designers like Ritu Kumar, Anamika Khanna, and Anita Dongre, have inspired many women designers to break the glass ceiling, or the glass runway in this case, and the Indian fashion landscape is slowly witnessing emergence of women designers bringing in fresh perspectives in the world of fashion.
Anju Modi started her eponymous label in the early 1990s with an aim to create a brand that could revive heritage artistry. Over the years Anju has worked extensively with artisan, craftsmen and weavers across the country. Today, the veteran is known for her haute couture prêt collections that celebrate forgotten themes and techniques that have been the mouthpieces of the skills of Indian artisans. Her extensive knowledge of the sartorial legacies of India enabled her to design costumes in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Goliyon Ki Rasleela – Ram Leela (2013).
Besides the fact that Payal Khandwala’s illustrious clientele includes celebrities Karisma Kapoor, Dia Mirza, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor, and Parineeti Chopra among others, Payal Khandwala’s label has become synonymous with demure luxury. Her creations find resonance in the tastes of the modern independent women, courtesy the sharp tailoring, bold colours, and silhouettes high on comfort and minimalist sophistication. Payal, who launched her label in 2012, had previously worked as an artist and studied fine arts at the Parsons School of Design in New York.
Arpita Mehta is the brains behind the tiered ruffled saree which became a runaway hit and has been flaunted by fashion icons like Kareena Kapoor Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone, Madhuri Dixit and newcomers Ananya Pandey and Tara Sutaria. Arpita forayed into the world of fashion in 2009. Her brand is renowned for its chic blending of ethnic and contemporary designs, and is a favourite among urban millennial brides. Arpita has a degree in Apparel Manufacture and Dress Design from SNDT University in Mumbai and she debuted at the Lakme India Fashion Week Winter/Festive in 2013.
Shubhika Davda’s label - Papa Don’t Preach by Shubhika - is popular among young, urban women whose personal style is anything but understated. Launched in 2010, Shubhika’s brand is known for its eye-popping palette of colours, blingy embellishments, unconventional motifs and prints, and the mix of Indian and Western silhouettes. Among her most popular desgins is the cropped lehenga. Shubhika, who started her venture after completing a diploma in fashion from the London College of Fashion in UK has dressed actors including Kriti Sanon, Bhumi Pednekar, Kiara Advani, Sara Ali khan, Shraddha Kapoor, and Ananya Pandey.
An alumnus of the Pearl Academy of Fashion in New Delhi, designer Astha Narang’s style includes modern silhouettes embracing folds and pleats inspired from origami and antique handwork like the traditional ‘salma sitara’ craft. Delhi-based Astha made heads turn with her collection Fold’Em at the Lakme Fashion Week in 2013 and prior to that she was felicitated with the Vogue Honours’ Awards in 2009. Her sparkly, feminine and versatile designs have earned the favour of Soha Ali Kha, Neha Dhupia, Kajol, Jahnavi Kapoor and most recently Maanvi Gagroo in the Amazon Prime series Four More Shots Please.
Nadine Dhody, a graduate from the London College of Fashion launched her label in 2015 and has become a name to reckon with in the contemporary Indian occasion wear space. Nadine’s creations have been acclaimed for having hit the right spot between Indian and Western aesthetics accentuated with exquisite embroidery techniques. They have been donned by celebrities including Madhuri Dixit, Sonakshi Sinha, Parineeti Chopra, Shruti Hassan, and Shilpa Shetty. Her heavily encrusted lehengas and feather gowns are a favourite among brides looking to go the avant-garde way with their trousseau.
(Edited by Athira Nair)