Couturier Rahul Mishra created history by being the first Indian designer to showcase at the Paris Haute Couture Week 2020 last month, joining the ranks of Elie Saab, Chanel, Dior, and Schiaparelli. But Rahul’s debut Haute Couture collection wasn’t just a memorable walk of bright, boldly-hued, highly intricate pieces...it also brought with it a compelling message: sustainability in fashion. “This collection has been a very intimate one for me. I envisioned it while at the Soneva Fushi resort in the Maldives for a family holiday...somehow, the island also looks similar to Indian tropical forests, which I feel deeply connected to. I even tried snorkelling there—an experience that helped me lock in the colours, textures and embroidery,” Rahul tell us.
The designer’s foray into couture is a conscious decision led by an intention of catering to a “demand for fashion versus having to create the demand”.
For his inaugural showcase as a guest member, he took a risk by reinventing his craft through embroidery. “After a very stressful run-up to the show, the collection we’ve created has evolved into an ode to planet Earth—my four-year-old daughter’s awareness of her changing environment sparked the idea. With pieces representing the flora, fauna, and corals from the underwater landscape, you can instantly notice various elements of nature brought to life through colours and embroidery. With this collection, we wanted to remind people what we have received from the planet, and what we are losing to human exploitation,” he adds.
Rahul’s signature three-dimensional embroidery features heavily through the collection. “With pieces that have taken more than 5,000 human hours to make, the collection explores shape-shifting silhouettes. Most of the garments are made with silk organza, as it’s the only fabric that allows us the kind of freedom we need with embroidery, while also retaining transparency and lightness,” Rahul reveals.
But sustainability, for Rahul, is an “ever-evolving idea”. His brand philosophy focuses on how a piece of clothing can create participation—from both the environment (for inspiration and resources) and people (by their craft and practices). “We are reducing the quantity of clothes we produce while growing as a business that employs more than 1,000 artisans from the Indian craft community. This enables us to go with a natural human pace for the process of creation...the biggest luxury of the moment,” he concludes.