EXCLUSIVE! Rahul Khanna on India Couture Week: 'Balancing pragmatism, imagination is a crucial aspect of an endeavour'
In conversation with the designer duo Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna on the India Couture Week, how machines are inferior to craftsmanship and more
Lachmi Deb Roy Last Updated:August 05, 2023 16:24:59 IST
Designer duo Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna are known for our metallic, silvers and golds. This season they have experimented with a lot of colour from the shades of the sea to the dusk. They have introduced the electric blues and coppers in their collection. Copper is a colour which is a new wedding colour. Gandhi and Khanna says that apart from silvers and gold, copper and lilacs will be the new colours of the season. Apart from the signature RGRK looks, we got to see corset-inspired tops, micro blouses and gowns with thigh-high risqué slits. They have worked with lace for the first time.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
On the India Couture week collection
When we started working on our collection, we initially started discussing balance, time and occasions (day and night) one could wear our garments. We want our pieces to have a good balance so that one can wear them multiple times and not just once. The idea is to create couture pieces that are a perfect balance of being couture enough and at the same can be worn on other occasions.
During this discussion, we came up with Equinox. It’s a phenomenon where the sun lines up with the earth to make day and night equal halves. The concept just went with our thought process. This collection marries faith and fable, with architecture and craft to birth a collection that is equally balanced. This collection is much more feminine, ethereal, playful and delicate as compared to our earlier collections. We have played a lot with skin tones and lighter tones. This season you’ll see a new range of colours which we bring in that we’ve never worked with before. Another interesting thing to look out for is the jewellery that we have used. It’s from Badalia Diamond’s latest collection called Celestial – a range of exquisitely hand-crafted jewellery for the modern bride and groom.
How much do you believe in the concept of revival of weaves?
Indian weaves have been a major part of our culture, heritage and Indian fashion. There are more than 100 types of weaves in India from various parts of the country and it’s important to protect and revive the dying crafts and weaves. For this collection, we have developed a luxurious handmade lace using a beaten metallic technique. It is an old Rajasthani technique where women beat the metal and thread together to give it a metallic feel. It’s all done by hand and takes hours to make. This is something new which we have tried this season. We have also embellished this lace with our signature Tanzanite and metallic crystals, aquamarine and baby pink stones. It’s a good mix of old and new.
Your idea of slow fashion?
As designers, we have always believed in curating garments that are timeless and decorous. For us, slow fashion is timeless outfits that can be re-worn today or 10 years later. Our approach fosters a deeper connection between fashion and its consumers, encouraging a shift away from the throwaway culture of fast fashion towards a more responsible and enduring relationship with clothing.
It’s a piece that can be passed on and has been created with a lot of detailing and craft. Even our clients have become smart about what they wear and spend. They are not trend followers or confused about what they want. They are always looking at investing in a beautifully crafted piece that they can keep for a long time.
How is a machine inferior to craftsmanship?
Craftsmanship allows your imagination to go wild. You have the liberty to create exactly what you envision which on a machine could have some limitations. A handcrafted piece could have a range of crafts in a single piece which makes it a one-of-a-kind. The quality is the highest as the designer and artisan put their energy and time into each piece as they understand the value behind it. A handcrafted piece has beautiful construction and detailing.
On pragmatism vs imagination…
Balancing pragmatism and imagination is indeed a crucial aspect of any creative endeavour, including building a collection or marketing it. Imagination is the creative force that drives innovation and originality in a collection. It involves coming up with new ideas, concepts, and designs that set the collection apart from others. Imagination fuels the artistic vision and the overall aesthetic appeal of your work. It’s what makes the collection unique and captivating. Pragmatism, on the other hand, focuses on the practical aspects of the collection. It includes the technicalities of design, construction, and detailing. This side ensures that your collection is not only visually appealing but also functional, well-crafted, and durable. Pragmatism is essential to ensure that your creations are not only beautiful but also well-made and able to meet the needs of your customers. Striking the right balance between imagination and pragmatism is key to creating a successful collection.
Even in communication, the customers value both aspects. They are intelligent, well-informed and seek products that offer both artistic appeal and functionality.
Your favourite fabric and why?
We absolutely love to work with a variety of silk and tulle as it allows us more room for experimentation with heavy ornamentation/ surface textures which is our signature style.