Technologies Of Elegance
TAKE on art|July - December 2017

As soon as you enter the exhibition space in Bikaner House, the display ahead sort of takes your breath away. It’s a carefully crafted mise-enscène, filled with dangling screens, suspended sequins, overflowing jewellery boxes, glass displays, and more. And yet, in spite of the exquisite setting, and the props that inhabit it, your focus never wavers from the clothes, which form the essence of the exhibition.

Avantika Bhuyan

From a big whoosh skirt in short Lyon silk taffeta and a ruby red Duchess Satin gala evening dress to a pheasant feather evening high neck top and a sleeveless silk sheath dress with recycled plastic embroidery – each of the 86-88 exhibits take the viewer through 40 years of legacy of the designer duo, Didier Lecoanet and Hemant Sagar.

The show, ‘Paris, New Delhi: From Haute Couture to the Technologies of Elegance’, offers a glimpse of garments that they first created after opening shop in 1981 in the plush Rue St Honore in Paris to the new ready-to-wear line, Genes, which they have designed at their atelier in Gurgaon. This reinforces the designers’ definition of haute couture – “industrial in structure and artisanal in execution,” as Sagar puts it – and also takes you by surprise by the sheer variety of finely crafted garments that they have created over the years. “I was taken by the range of things they do,” says Rin Jajo, a Delhi-based fashion consultant, who attended this retrospective, of sorts, in March. His acquaintance with the brand goes back several years, when he was a stylist for Maxim, and used clothes by the Lecoanet Hemant brand for shoots. “In spite of this long association, I wasn’t fully aware of all that they do,” he reiterates.

I ask Sagar, why go down the exhibition route, instead of the tied-and tested fashion show format? “The exhibition allowed me to have a precise take on all aspects of fashion. And the only reason I could do this is because Bikaner House exists,” he says. The show sort of blurs the line between art and fashion, a format that he would like to repeat. “It is about a personal body of work and not so much about the format for us. A fashion show would certainly not have been able to express the dimension of details in the same way as this exhibition, and the numerous projections created the bridge in time, which the former could not have expressed,” he says.

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