When the lights went down at the beginning of Rahul Mishra's sophomore show in Paris, all eyes were turned in the wrong direction. Instead of coming from the backstage, the models emerged in darkness broken only by strobe flashes. The meaning of this was lost on an audience wearied by several weeks at the runway side. Things soon returned to normal as the first model appeared clad in a pristine outfit reminiscent of his first Parisian collection.
"For me, the best poetry happens when you are emotionally charged,” said the Indian designer, backstage, his clear voice ringing loud and distinct in a surprisingly serene backstage. "Art gets lost if you try too hard." Textile and thread are Mishra's forte. His main material was of course wool, worked in a palette that ranged from light (whites and pinks) to dark (navy and black).
For this season, the Indian designer — one of only a handful of his compatriots to show on the Paris stage — was inspired by the idea of a self-sustained village, like the one where he was born, and how that most minute grouping of human civilisation turns out to be the most complex. It feels like a natural segue to the most remarkable feature of his work, the intricate thread embroidery that is used to form the dotted star fields. Sheer panels provided a protected view of what lay beneath, further echoed in plant life enclosed under tiny tulle domes on Mishra's naive embroidery of a village. Cuts were overall of the simple kind, forming a welcome balance with his intricate imagery.
While this collection didn't feel like a departure from his earlier work, his tale compels a listening. "A story happens well with minimal elements that don't confuse the listener," he mused. Mishra is shaping into one of the fashion circuit's poetic storytellers, and the quiet statement of personal intent feels all the louder in the ambient din.