Here comes the Dawn

Rahul Mishra constructs an elaborate, kaleidoscopic world of life-giving mushrooms that literally “grow” with the clothes he has created for his Couture Spring 2021 collection for the online Haute Couture Week in Paris, filmed in a pristine white, desert-like marble dumpyard, highlighting the fact that in a bleak world, nature vanquishes all.

Lifestyle Insider Look 5 from Rahul Mishra's Couture Spring 2021 collection at Haute Couture Week

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.” — Alice Walker

The night is darkest right before dawn, goes the popular saying. And if Rahul Mishra’s Couture Spring 2021 collection – presented in the form of a digi-film on the website of the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode on the occasion of Haute Couture Week a few days ago – is anything to go by, what an awakening it is. Filmed on the white sand-clad, desolate desertscape of the Kishangarh marble dumpyard a few hours from Jaipur, the film, that starts with a drone shot over this futuristic, white landscape, where nothing grows, quickly zooms onto a fallen tree, where multicoloured (crochet) mushrooms, sprout, lichen-like, as if to symbolize a rebirth, a new beginning, where nature, in her own way, always finds her way through the most trying and most extreme circumstances, to create life, where nothing exists.

Lifestyle Insider Look 15 from Rahul Mishra's Couture Spring 2021 collection at Haute Couture Week

If the New Delhi-based Rahul Mishra’s last collection evoked the Butterfly and paid homage to his artisans, this collection is about the beauty of nature taking over from our collective sense of loss as a planet. Heavily inspired by Sir David Attenborough’s Netflix film, A Life on our Planet, Rahul Mishra looks at how even in the ruins of Chernobyl (where the nuclear accident eradicated all life forms there), nature took over faster than anyone expected.

Lifestyle Insider Look 20 from Rahul Mishra's Couture Spring 2021 collection at Haute Couture Week

From the crocheted, multicoloured ‘mushrooms’ on the tree, to giant mushrooms literally growing out, and forming a dress, Rahul Mishra has dipped into his trademark tactile, 3D embroidery, painstakingly created by his artisans in his atelier (no presentation by him is complete without some sort of an homage to the people behind his creations, hence the close-up shots of delicate embroidery being hand-sewn on the fabric in the film).

Sometimes artist, and other times botanist, Rahul Mishra deconstructs the fungus, the life-giving mushrooms, and how they are known to grown literally overnight, seen at dawn, and disappear equally mysteriously, but not before transferring their life-giving power to the soil, which in turn transmits their energy and nutrients to insects who then pollinate the flower. And so the cycle continues, very much like the way he designed his collection. He explains (in an IGTV talk) how the creative process was very much an exercise of form and nature. “Usually garment-making is linear,” he says, “With the sketch, pattern-making, embroidery and tailoring. In this case, it was quite circular. We stitched the garment first, so that the mushroom can stand almost like a veritable mushroom, with no ruffling.”

Lifestyle Insider Look 7 from Rahul Mishra's Couture Spring 2021 collection at Haute Couture Week

And just like the mushrooms that are seen to grow on the fallen tree, his models too, are like nature that allows these mushrooms to grown on them. The models wear exotic mushrooms separately hand tacked over the glimmering tree-bark-texture hand embroidered on tulle and silk organza that is further embellished with wildflowers. As the botanist, Nicholas P. Money, says: “Mushrooms are masterpieces of natural engineering, the most wondrous inventions in evolutionary history.” Rahul says that each of the mushroom forms is individually engineered through a unique pattern making process assisted by novel hand embroidery techniques, in order to achieve a realistic fall and movement.

Lifestyle Insider Look 13 from Rahul Mishra's Couture Spring 2021 collection at Haute Couture Week

Shape-shifting silhouettes constructed with the meticulous placement of these forms replicate life itself. Hands lay the quintessential craft of hand embroidery along with the design intervention and contemporary application of Rahul’s core values of slow, ethical and sustainable couture. The clothes are breathtaking and modern – coatdresses, gowns, mini-dresses, a babydoll. “Today, times have changed,” says Rahul. “Women are powerful. Couture needs to free them.” This simplicity is what’s needed for a modern lifestyle, according to Rahul.

The garments ask to the viewer, a simple question – do we wish to continue witnessing the marvels of nature present to us on this planet? To get the answer, we may be required to dig within ourselves, for wisdom, and realize the change.

Lifestyle Insider Look 3 from Rahul Mishra's Couture Spring 2021 collection at Haute Couture Week

In its own incomprehensible ways, nature knows how to sustain herself. When the last tree is felled, life will sprout from the cracks and blanket what is left behind. The starry night will conspire with crystal dewdrops and concoct an array of bright-hued mushrooms. Rings of magic will emerge.

“I wanted to show that this place (the marble dumpyard) was lifeless, with a fallen tree – and now mushrooms are growing, a new life is beginning,” says Rahul. “Sir David Attenborough’s prophecy comes to mind – that humans can only save the future, not the planet.” This comes from the realization during the lockdown that humans may not have to save the planet, but themselves. The planet would survive, and the human species may succumb to their weakness.

Lifestyle Insider Look 21 from Rahul Mishra's Couture Spring 2021 collection at Haute Couture Week

A Film by Storyloom Films
Film Direction by Keya Vaswani & Nidhi Karmath
Photography by Hormis Antony Tharakan & Taha Ahmad
Styling by Priyanka Yadav
Shoes by Rahul Mishra X OCEEDEE Shoes
Location: Kishangarh Marble Dumpyard, Rajasthan, India
Models: Laura Gavrilenko, Mansi, Nitin Baranwal


Priya Kumari Rana

Lifestyle Insider is a kind of junction point, connecting people with diverse interests that touch on the more luxurious aspects of lifestyle – fashion, design, travel, food and spirits, art, watches and jewellery, cars, yachts, and aviation, and technology. People today don’t fit into boxes and categories. In our individual ways, we are interested in diverse themes, products, and the challenges that face our world today. You will judge how well this effort of mine caters to your passions and proclivities.

Lifestyle Insider is a showcase of all that is beautiful and luxe. Behind every creation, is a designer, chef, entrepreneur, or a design maison. I have delved into my own appreciation for objetsde luxe that I have admired over the years – be it a love of fashion from the world’s top Parisian and Italian fashion maisons and their ’90s muses, or the care that goes into sari and Indian textile collections in my own family. Growing up on four continents, as the daughter of a former Indian Ambassador, I’ve seen a remarkable array of historic places and met a myriad people. My aim is to bring my world view into this website, a curation of what I find particularly stunning, unique, and newsworthy.

It’s an exciting time for brands all over the world. With change comes opportunity. With the global ‘reset’ and uncertainty on many fronts, there is a chance to write a new script. Let’s be those pioneers.

A bit about me:
A luxury and fashion journalist with 25 years of experience in publishing and magazine journalism, I have edited some of India’s top fashion and luxury magazines. I got my BA in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and went on to receive my Master’s in English and French from the University of Strasbourg, France. I have also studied German and Film. I live in Gurugram, India, and look forward to once again exploring our world with a new-found freedom.

Priya Kumari Rana

Founder and Editor

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