Dawn in the Afternoon

Payal Pratap

The debut show of Payal Pratap, well known designer Rajesh Pratap's wife was a stunner. Its not easy to live up to a debut, especially if you have multiple expectations riding on your barely begun resume. But Payal, a NIFT student from the 1994 batch who waited all these years to set off on her personal journey in India's crowded fashion world, seems to have reflected, rejected and selected often enough in her mind to know what works. She called her first collection (though she has retailed off the runway before this) Gates of Dawn. Wow. I like the symbolism in that title. Blissful Bohemia visualised through the costumes of Kutch made up her line. She had colour blocked sarees with cross stitch details, beautiful crafted diaphanous net garments with tonal embroideries. There were gypsy gilets, with deep angarkhas as well as ghaghra pants. What I loved most was her colour palette. She may have been inspired by Kutch, a hot, arid region, where locals are unafraid to wear fiery colour combinations, but Payal seems to be a sophisticate from inside. She had contrasts in her clothes but the colours didn't fight with each other. They were in consonance. A deep purple went alongside a burnt orange without shouting to decide which one would dominate.

What made Payal's collection special was that her garments weren't just ordinary pret. Without getting even momentarily lured to the way market sees "saleable fashion" she made her pieces special with embroidery, thoughtful tonal work and gave them a rustic-urban personality. Leather accessories, toe ring flat footwear added to nomadic reflections. There is vision here and what struck me most was that there was an unhurried temper to her garments that will extend to the wearer's personality. She might want to follow her buyer to find who wears her and why.

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