Reflections in the Gardens of Giverny

Just as Monet was inspired by his flower-filled garden in Giverny, France, Delhi-based designer Rahul Mishra looks at the trees, sunlight, a lotus-filled pond, birds, and butterflies around him to create the exceptional embroideries and craft in his Festive Couture 2020 collection for Digital India Couture Week.

3D embroidery and scalloped edges of this lehenga and dupatta by Rahul Mishra ICW2020 – FDCI

Rahul Mishra recently showcased a textured, flower-embroidery filled collection called ‘Butterfly People’ at Paris Couture Week (it had a digital format this time, owing to the Covid-19 epidemic). Earlier this year, he had made history as the first Indian designer to be invited to participate at the haute couture show there. What made the fashion world sigh in admiration was the sheer beauty of his delicate, gossamer creations that came alive with 3D motifs of nature, and his bridal-festive line at India’s first-ever Digital Couture Week presented by the Fashion Design Council of India, is no different in its perfect execution. But it’s couture with an Indian touch, inspired by a splendid lotus pond, where Monet’s blooming garden of Giverny would have been.

The Tijara Fort Palace provides a stunning backdrop for Rahul Mishra's couture creations ICW2020 – FDCI

Filmed at the historic, sand-hued Tijara Fort Palace as a six-minute short by Hormis Anthony Tharakan, the collection is, as the couturier himself puts it, an “organic extension” of his Paris haute couture collection. “A significant part of our New Delhi team are our kaarigars (hand embroiderers and tailors),” says Rahul Mishra. “We have been fortunate to be able to stand by them through this storm and are committed to continue doing so. It's the very foundation of our brand values. We are a large family – that includes hundreds of people including local craftsmen and workers. Today, we collectively acknowledge the value of beauty. It gave us a deep sense of joy and nourishment to return to our studio.”

Just like the Garden of Giverny, the lotus pond provides inspiration for the artist in Rahul Mishra ICW2020 – FDCI

And return he did – to produce this set of floaty embroidered lehengas, gowns, saris, along with sherwanis and Nehru jackets for men. Just like the earth in one of James Lovelock’s quotes, that is “alive like a tree, using sunlight, water, and minerals to grow and change”, his collection has evolved quietly during the pandemic, reminding us of the power of quiet growth and tenacity. “The conversation between the tree and its surroundings found greater intimacy in the past months, as human intervention reduced,” says Rahul Mishra. “The virginal lotus ponds with life sprouting in diverse forms, the psychedelia of the underwater-scape, replete with striking hues and textures, and the symphony of birds and butterflies have inspired the craft behind ‘Lotus Pond’.”

An embroidered sherwani by Rahul Mishra ICW2020 – FDCI

His clothes symbolize a certain hope and optimism for a better future. Rahul is also hopeful to keep growing sustainably and empowering his communities of kaarigars and tailors. ‘Lotus Pond’ is Rahul Mishra’s ode to the evolving ecosystem of aquatic plants, fishes, planktons, dragonflies and butterflies – all brought together by the persistent, ethereal lotus.

Birds, the skies, vegetation and aquatic creatures come alive in this lehenga by Rahul Mishra ICW2020 – FDCI Delicate saris with floral embroidery by Rahul Mishra ICW2020 – FDCI Delicate threadwork on a pale pink Nehru jacket by Rahul Mishra ICW2020 – FDCI Embroidered lehengas with cape tops by Rahul Mishra ICW2020 – FDCI


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.

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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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