We must brave post-rain, post-work, post-sanity Delhi peak hour before we are finally delivered to Rahul Mishra’s new flagship store in Mehrauli, now properly the mecca of Indian couture. In search of the newest designer store on the block, we’re gratified to discover it is not only easily spotted, but also on sale. This is “pre-collection”, which we surmise is an attempt to get rid some of Mishra’s Spring/Summer offerings and make way for new threads.
The store itself is large and, well, white. Unlike its haute ton neighbours, this flagship is spare and the focus is solely on the clothes housed within the minimalist walls. There is none of Sabyasachi’s baroque splendour, or Anita Dongre’s warm Pichvai-accented merger of clothes and atmosphere - or, indeed, the Address Home modern gothic inspired template so many designers dabbling in bridal wear seem to prefer. Instead, Mishra sets himself apart with a cube which showcases sun-dappled zardozi to its brightest, if not quite best, effect.
While every thread in a ghagra is displayed for a potential customer’s perusal, the lack of warmth illuminates too many flaws - even if more in the fit and flare than in the design itself.
As with other designer stores in Delhi, Mishra’s lucrative wedding and festive wear collections occupy pride of place. A massive skylight infuses the store with brightness, and Mishra’s colour palette - varied and eclectic - pops under the attention. It’s rather surreal to navigate through hefty hand-embroidered lehengas and anarkalis under lighting that would not be out of place at the Guggenheim in New York City. And this might not necessarily be the best way to entice people to drop upwards of Rs 80,000 (up to Rs 2.8 lakh) on clothes. While every thread in a ghagra is displayed for a potential customer’s perusal, the lack of warmth illuminates too many flaws - even if more in the fit and flare than in the design itself.
On the other hand, the India-via-Japan look of the store fits Mishra’s structured dresses, other Western wear and more casual Indian outfits like a glove. We are enamoured of a rose-and-gingham kurta and pants, and wouldn’t turn down one of his Maheshwari silk anarkalis in typical-Mishra floral jaal capelet sets if a red carpet invite to a movie premiere were to arrive unlooked for.
Not for nothing is Mishra the first Indian designer to win the prestigious Woolmark prize at Milan Fashion Week in 2014. Besides his experiments in marrying Western construction techniques in organic, handwoven Indian fabrics, we’re especially fond of his devotion to a structured fit, which suits the average Indian woman much better than the baggy anti-fit clothing seemingly designed for the endlessly leggy. At the end of the month, the Spring/Summer silhouettes will give way to Autumn, and we can’t wait to try on versions of the playful ruffles and asymmetric hemlines Mishra debuted on the runway. Put that on your jacket copy.
Getting there: Rahul Mishra, 6/4 Kalkadass Marg, Mehrauli Road, call 9599554372. A rose-gingham kurta set for Rs 30,000.
This story is contributed by Yamini Lohia, a writer based in New Delhi.
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