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Ahuja

Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja will represent India at the International Woolmark Prize competition at the London Fashion Week.

Last year, they presented one half of the grand finale at Mumbai's Lakme Fashion Week and also won the India leg of the International Woolmark Prize competition that was held in July. After a remarkable 2012, designer duo Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja are looking forward to a promising 2013, starting with their participation in the London Fashion Week in February. "The final round of the International Woolmark Prize is scheduled for February 16 as part of the fashion week. I am not sure how our work will be received, but I am excited about this opportunity," says Pankaj.

The only design label — as Pankaj & Nidhi — they will compete against five other designers — Dion Lee (Australia), Ban Xiao Xue (China), Christian Wijnants (Belgium), Dressedundressed by Takeshi Kitazawa and Emiko Sato (Japan) and Sophia Theallet (USA) — each of whom is young, upcoming yet prominent in their own country.

The fierce competition aside, the duo's work will be scrutinised by fashion experts, including Diane Von Furtsenberg, Victoria Beckham and Donatella Versace. But Pankaj and Nidhi are prepared. "We are sticking to our signature look where we have used interesting textures, made with labour-intensive techniques, such as lattice work and cross stitch. We have also developed the merino fur texture, which is a lot like real fur. So in a way, we've offered an ecologically viable alternative to the latter," says Pankaj, adding that certain silhouettes also have the fabric covered with chain stitch, albeit in a manner that makes it looks like print.

Interesting colour combinations also feature prominently in this line, the creation of which consumed the duo's last six months. "We wanted to challenge the notion that wool can be commonly found in black, grey and beige, so we have played with bright hues such as pink, red, green and blue, among others. After all, India is known to celebrate its colourful culture," he says.

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