Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Slow Fashion in a Fast World: Indian Designer Rahul Mishra

Prismatic colours embroidered on to a flowing dark navy gown at Rahul Mishra's SS18 show in Paris. Cover picture and all photographs by Elli Ioannou

Designer Rahul Mishra believes in "slow fashion" where time is taken to research and produce collections. He uses artisans from across India that work by hand using traditional techniques like fine embroidery to create collections that are shown during Paris Fashion Week. Mishra wants to combine both the best of new technology with craftsmanship to enhance a sense of beauty and peace, writes Antonio Visconti. Photographs by Elli Ioannou

Intricate flowers and stripes create a
richly-textured jacket
IN our rapidly changing world of digital technology and social media, fashion designers are pressurised to deliver their shows and collections as soon as possible to world wide audiences and often in real time. Although many fashion houses in Paris and Milan have resisted the "see now, buy now" movement because either it is not feasible given the conceptual nature of many shows or the time-consuming workmanship required for high-end collections. Philosophically, Indian designer Rahul Mishra who shows on the official Paris Fashion Week schedule, supports "slow fashion". His fashion house is based on sustainable and ethical production using both hand-craft techniques combined with new technology. Mishra collaborates with craftspeople in different regions of India. The designer aims to create collections that are contemporary yet use traditional artisans that support local economies.

When Mishra visited his hometown village Malhousie in Uttar Pradesh earlier this year, it allowed him to literally slow down and appreciate the stillness and beauty of the natural world. In the quiet of the village, cut-off from digital distractions, he focused on the joy of observing the birds and the bees under India's great blue sky, walking across the village fields and listening to the crickets.

Animals like birds, bees and tigers embroidered
on to a jacket at Rahul Mishra
Mishra's latest SS18 collection, presented in Paris earlier this month, was inspired by watching the honeybees in his village and looking at prisms of light and colour created by movement. When the designer returned to his studio in Delhi, he researched what he had seen in the countryside and spent months creating his new runway show, "Light In The Sky". During Paris Fashion Week, he showed the new collections including some one hundred garments, many pieces finely embroidered with bees, flowers and birds and prismatic representations of light. The collection includes floating, sheer dresses with ruffles, flowing skirts and a multitude of different colours ~ inspired by seeing colour and light at speed. It was a frothy, buoyant and summery collection, one that contrasted with his Autumn/Winter 2017 show with its rich pointillist embroidery inspired by 19th century French Impressionist painters, created by 700 different artisans.

Studying a science degree, Rahul Mishra did not seem destined to a life at the epicentre of haute fashion in Paris. He comes from a family of doctors and grew up listening to his grandparents tales of history and myth in his village.

Layers of ruffles enhances the summery, buoyant
theme of the show
Mishra went to school locally before completing a graduate degree in physics at nearby Kanpur University. But he decided to change career completely and express his ideas about the world through design. He went on to do a post-graduate degree at the National Institute of Design in Ahmadabad. His dissertation addressed social issues that he encountered meeting Indian crafts people. His aim was to find out how to make these artisans more empowered. Mishra's debut collection was based on using traditional Kerala looms. This first collection won him a scholarship to Italy's Istituto Marangoni. By 2008, he opened his own fashion house focusing on specialist textiles and hand-made garments. Mishra's work became known beyond India, when he won the prestigious Woolmark Prize in Milan in 2014. This buoyed him to launch his Spring/Summer 2015 collection and show it on the international fashion stage at Paris Fashion Week. So far, Mishra has managed to maintain a strong Indian identity based on the country's traditional skills while melding that with the latest in digital technology.

Tap on photographs for full-screen slideshow
Rahul Mishra's fashion house is based on sustainable and ethical production using both hand-craft techniques combined with new technology.


Mishra collaborates with craftspeople in different regions across India.


The designer aims to create collections that are contemporary yet use traditional artisans that support local economies.

Mishra's SS18 collection, presented in Paris earlier this month, was inspired by watching the honeybees in his village and looking at prisms of light and colour created by movement.


When the designer returned to his studio in Delhi, he researched what he had seen in the countryside and spent months creating his new runway show.


 During Paris Fashion Week, Rahul Mishra showed the new collections including some one hundred garments, many pieces finely embroidered with bees, flowers and birds and prismatic representations of light.
The collection includes floating, sheer dresses with ruffles, flowing skirts and a multitude of different colours.
The new collection is a frothy, buoyant and summery with fluid fabrics and brilliant colour.
 Mishra's work became known beyond India, when he won the prestigious Woolmark Prize in Milan in 2014.
After studying Physics, Mishra went on to do a post-graduate degree at the National Institute of Design in Ahmadabad.

Mishra has managed to maintain a strong Indian identity based on the country's traditional skills while melding that with the latest in digital technology and showing on the international stage in Paris.




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