Vaishali S debuts in Paris, blending tradition and nature
The last day of the Paris Haute Couture week featured an unexpected calendar debut. It was the first Parisian show by Indian designer Vaishali Shadangule with her label Vaishali S. Set up 20 years ago, Vaishali S picked the gardens of the Lycée Victor Duruy, in Paris’s 7th arrondissement and a stone's throw from Les Invalides, to get acquainted with a French audience for the first time.
In the soft light of the setting sun, under a verdant canopy of trees, the show opened with a violin player’s music, ushering in Vaishali S.'s models. The collection was inspired by the need to breathe and the notion of reconnecting with nature, steering clear of the embroidery and glittering details so frequently featured in haute couture.
Shadangule preferred to rely on traditional hand-woven fabrics, like khand, to create asymmetrical silhouettes and pleated volumes. The designer’s tribute to her roots went beyond the use of sari, India’s traditional garment, dipping into macramé-like fabrics with which she fashioned graceful details such as fringes and airy sleeves reminiscent of small flowering gardens, and leading up to the construction of complete silhouettes with corsets and architecturally complex dresses.
The models, wearing flat shoes and plain, natural-looking make-up, showcased dresses that unfurled asymmetrically in the shape of butterfly wings, of lush leaves and even mermaids emerging from the sea with algae-strewn bodies, in a colour palette starting with unobtrusive whites and blacks, but veering further into violet, gold, maroon and blueish green. Plus of course the bride that strolled out to mark the end of the show, wearing a flowing, slightly lopsided dress with layered fabrics and sheer effects, reinterpreting traditional bridal wear from a contemporary perspective.
“I'm tremendously happy. Coming from India, it was a great responsibility for me, showing here for the first time,” said Shadangule after the show, surprised by the number of guests. “I wanted to show that there is more to India than beautiful handmade fabrics and embroidery. We are capable of creating fine looks and textures. I wanted to combine these two ideas to convey our perspective on fashion,” said the designer, who hails from the central region of Madhya Pradesh, talking to FashionNetwork.com. Vaishali S works with over 900 Madhya Pradesh families to keep traditional weaving workshops and their artisanal know-how alive.
In addition, Shadangule came to Paris after a tough, Covid-19-plagued year, which she is happy to have weathered. “We have survived the pandemic, and our sales have continued to grow. I may just be optimistic, but I see this as a connection with nature, telling us we need to be born anew and to slow our pace down,” she added, linking the current context to the lively, naturalistic mood of her Fall/Winter 2021 collection, entitled ‘Breathe’.
“Breathing is an automatic reflex, something we do instinctively, almost without realising it. We breathe all the time. I wanted to forge a new connection with nature around this theme,” she said, again underlining the importance of making India known beyond its borders. “True couture is also implicit in the idea of using the craftsmanship of our traditional fabrics,” she said with a smile.
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