Rahul Mishra Fall 2023 Couture Collection
Embroidering beautiful naturalistic motifs on a panel and a flimsy veil, two Indian master artisans sat in opposite corners of the vast courtyard of La Monnaie de Paris, where Rahul Mishra held his couture show, to avoid the blazing sun. They appeared to be wholly engrossed in their work, oblivious to both the oppressive heat and the buzzing horde of Indian celebrities and socialites who were in attendance at the event. “They’re almost in a meditative state,” Mishra remarked about the patients. “It’s likely that they live in the woods and by the lotus ponds, and that they have friendly chats with the tigers and birds whose portraits they embroider. Who knows what universes in parallel they are exploring in their imagination?
The embroiderers are a member of Mishra’s ethical community of craftspeople, to which he dedicated the collection; they have been working together ever since he launched his socially conscious fashion firm. Mishra dedicated the collection to them. “The work that we do belongs to all of us, to all of the people that contributed to making this collection come to life,” he added. “The work that we do belongs to all of us.” “We’re all working toward the same goal.” That’s why he gave it the name “We the People,” after all. “I know it sounds something like the Constitution,” he joked. “I know it sounds like the Constitution.”
The needlework on some of the gowns hid miniscule representations of the craftspeople who had worked on them. These characters may be seen peering out from a diamond motif, sitting in circles to create the heart of a flower, or being represented by a little photograph of the woman who had really worked on the dress. It was a heartwarming approach to highlight the extraordinary craftsmanship of the creators while also including them actively in the process of putting together the collection. Mishra stated that he was particularly proud of the fact that, after years of training people coming from slums and from densely populated sub-factory set-ups in large cities, now the reverse migration has begun: craftsmen are returning to their local Indian villages, to build new communities of makers keeping traditional crafts alive. Mishra said that this was something that he had been working toward for years.
The collection exuded Mishra’s signature flamboyance and intricate embellishment, both of which are hallmarks of his work. The Art Nouveau sketches by Russian-French artist Erté served as a general source of inspiration for the silhouettes, which were maintained thin and extended for the most part. Over-the-top volumes (the designer referred to them as “gravity defying”) such as petals, enormous bows, or girandoles tops sprouting from thin bottoms were interspersed with slender forms such as short bustier dresses, catsuits, and midriff-baring tops worn with loose pants. In accordance with Mishra’s concept, tailored pant suits were cut with an emphasis on “straightforward simplicity.” It gave off a feeling of joyful excess and exuberance, as if the enthusiasm for creation could not be contained inside the bedazzling glamour of the decorations and in the unending sequined brilliance covering every surface. However, there was nothing simple about the bedazzling splendour of the decorations.