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With over 15 years in the fashion industry, Anamika Khanna is among the designers, who is somewhere between being elusive and present. The Kolkata-based designer with a dedicated clientele and celebrated by celebrities from the Indian film industry, doesn't necessarily go by the dictates of the digital media, which beckons visibility to stay afloat in the business. She is one of the designers, who wouldn't regularly make updates on her brand's Instagram feed - Anamika Khanna has her own pace and design ideology, which can sometimes inspire the minimalist to take a maximalist turn.
Her last show was the Blenders Pride Fashion Tour 2020, where she had siblings Arjun Kapoor and Janhvi Kapoor walking the ramp for her in her signature costumes - a cross between bohemian and traditional sensibility. This year, she was back and at such a time, when the two majors, Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) and Lakmé Fashion Week collaborated to present their first-ever joint phygitial fashion week. Anamika Khanna was the opening designer and at sharp 8 pm on Tuesday, sans the front-row audience, her show went live for the much-wider digital audience.
The Digital Movie
The show opened with three models posed on pedestals in their delicate ivory asymmetrical and kalidaar outfits with artists meticulously applying brush strokes on otherwise humble silhouettes. The rhythmic sound and visuals of clapping boomed in the backdrop and then almost instantly the shutter sound effects of the camera dominated the digital frame with models walking in, in Anamika Khanna's kaleidoscopic outfits. The music was electrifying but the subsequent frame showed the upbeat music mellowing down and the models breaking into pieces and getting washed down in the rain. Cut to a few seconds later, the almost-4 minutes digital presentation showed the model back in their pristine white outfits minus the hand-painted accents - signifying that despite the uncertain times, reborn we all will be.
The movie documented uncertain times and the ability of humans to bounce back. It also, as the designer had put it before the show, "I want to be more dressing up than dressing down - which is one part of the collection. Besides that, what is created will perish and what will be left behind is our legacy." She also added that she wants to celebrate opulence and optimism with her digital movie. While the dressing up and opulent part was fairly articulate with the designer's bold colour-blocks, embellished fringes, statement jewellery, and striking pattern play, the digital movie was what seemed dated, rushed, and with a little room for optimism. The three concepts in the movie - the showcase of normality, the uncertainty - perishing, and legacy, seemed disconnected and not in a flow - there was a lack of storytelling narrative in the digital movie. It seemed like three foreign concepts merged into one, where one frame didn't lead to another but was more like all-of-a-sudden.
With a dark backdrop and the music as tedious and mechanical as clapping and camera shutters, the movie lacked warmth and was hard to empathise with. Moreover, the melancholic frames in the movie didn't accentuate the designer's vivacious outfits. The scene, where all models came together, was dealt with coldly as they moment they came, they got fragmented into pieces, reminding most of us of the Avengers Infinity War disappearing moment except that Avengers movie did have scope of emotion in that scene. The drenching in the rain part, which symbolised the moment getting washed away, was cliché and it seemed more like highlighting gold-inspired makeup than something significant perishing in testing times.
The movie did have loopholes and while the concept was definitely relatable and had the right notes, the digital articulation was not quite there. However, the outfits, which holds the most importance be it in a digital or non-digital frame, were awe-inspiring and relevant in modern sensibility. The quilted skirts with tassle embroidered detailing, myriad patchwork patterns, the long jackets enhanced by diverse patterns, the blazing yellow separates, the amalgamation of monochromatic and pop colours, the silk asymmetrical drapes, the deities-inspired, and hand-painted outfits, were so beautifully detailed. Anamika Khanna's language and command on fashion was certainly evident with a few preserved pieces reinterpreted from her past shows like Bvlgari Delhi show.