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‘India in Fashion’ at Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre 

Smriti Malhotra 

A monumental costume exhibition has been launched at the newly built Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre is a feast for the eyes and the mind. 

Founder of the cultural centre, Mrs. Nita Ambani’s brainchild, this exhibition is called ‘India in Fashion: The Impact of Indian Dress and Textiles on the Fashionable Imagination’, it signifies the unique impact of Indian textiles, crafts and artisans’ on global fashion and style beginning from 18th century to present. It has been curated by Hamish Bowles and designed by Patrick Kinmonth and architect Rooshad Shroff, “we’re trying to trace something that is about imagination, creativity, and beauty, and how it’s taken up in different cultures,” explains Kinmonth in an interview with Vogue India. 

Rahul Mishra Couture Spring 2023
Courtesy: Vogue Arabia

The exhibition beautifully traces Indian textile traditions from the chikankari and mukaish embroidery that achieved its peak during the Mughal era to the story of Chintz that has fascinated many. Many Indian designers and their creations are juxtaposed with creations by international ateliers. A unique and familiar theme that has been curated with a fresh perspective shall be a treat to all Indian viewers. 

The exhibition begins with Jean Philippe-Worth—who headed the House of Worth that dressed royalty and celebrities at the turn of the century, to the works of Madame Grès and the innovative patterns of Cristóbal Balenciaga. Many other international designers such as Mainbocher, Paul Poiret, Gabrielle Chanel, Christian Dior, Zandra Rhodes, Alexander McQueen, Dries van Noten Yves Saint Laurent’s costumes have also been reflected in the show. 

The scale and stature of this exhibition is unlike any other, keeping an account of everything that one sees from the design layout, to the lighting fixtures, temperature control, showcases within which the costumes lie, loaned pieces and of course the accessibility to the exhibition. 

Another important highlight of the exhibition is the loaned pieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It is the largest loan in recent history for any exhibition. 

Within the exhibition, one also finds iconic Indian costumes that one may have seen on the silver screen that can evoke excitement such as the costumes worn by Kajol in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kareen Kapoor’s costume and Priyanka Chopra’s saree in Dostana. Archival pieces in the collection of Indian designers Ritu Kumar, Sabyasachi, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla are on display that will surely awe-struck the viewers. 

The exhibition captures the story of Indian fabric and its influence of fashion nationally and internationally rather beautifully. From Rahul Mishra’s dreamy interpretation on fabric to Anamika Khanna’s breathtaking embroidery to Ritu Kumar’s magic weaved on cotton. 

Ensembles by Zandra Rhodes (left and center) and Jean Paul Gaultier (right) in the Hippie Trail section of the exhibition
Courtesy- Vogue Arabia

India in Fashion also houses the legendary lehenga made by Maison Valentino, which is the one and only lehenga ever made by the couture house. 

The ever-evolving textile language of this country has been beautifully reflected in the exhibition. The show is an ode to Indian craftsmanship and creativity that has been platformed so beautifully in an unprecedented manner. 

The exhibition is on view till 4th June 2023, open on all days: 10am to 10pm. Children under 7, senior citizens and fashion & art school students can enter free of charge

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