Rahul Mishra unveiled his spring/summer collection at Paris Fashion Week October 1, exploring the versatility of Merino wool as a lightweight, trans-seasonal fibre.
Inspired by a boatman’s journey, Mishra’s predominately Merino wool collection, titled The Ferryman's Tale, aims to bridge the gap between artisans of the east and retailers of the west through a celebration of Indian craftsmanship and design.
“I am like a storyteller in a little boat who travels to different places,” said Mishra. “In the small villages of India I have met craftspeople and makers and now I have sailed to Paris to tell their stories in a new light.”
Inspired by traditional Japanese stencil art and three centuries old Chintz textile techniques, Mishra showcased intricate hand embroidery in floral and geometric patterns, drawing on a palette of ivory, gold, black and yellow.
Delicate vines wound their way up demure-necked dresses while hand-stitched blossoms adorned sleek pencil skirts and structured blouses. A Gossamer cape incorporated cobweb-like hexagonal shapes, while whispers of silk organza were knotted with superfine Merino wool to create intricate patterns playing with natural and graphic forms.
“I believe these tiny knots are like thought bubbles; if you use them properly you can create poetry,” Mishra said.
Every garment in the sophisticated yet sensual show was focused on empowering the Indian craft community by showcasing sustainable design and India’s rich heritage of traditional techniques.
“When I look at my country and see so much unemployment, I want to use fashion as a tool to empower my people,” Mishra said. “What creates the strength is when multiple hands come together to create beauty.”
Hailing from India, the designer has experienced a stratospheric rise since winning the International Woolmark Prize in 2014. His award-winning collection of hand embroidery on lightweight Merino wool is now being sold in some of the world’s most prestigious fashion stores, including London’s Harvey Nichols, Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, Milan’s 10 Corso Como, mytheresa.com and Joyce in Hong Kong.
In leading Paris boutique Colette, Mishra’s IWP collection sold out within a matter of weeks after being displayed in the windows.
“In a few weeks we sold out the entire collection, so my office had to send a second shipment immediately,” Mishra said.
“We had an amazing reception after winning the International Woolmark Prize, but this is just the beginning for us,” he said. “Our ultimate aim is to create a product not just for consumption, but to design a system for maximum participation for the villagers and the artisans, in order to sustain their livelihood.”
The uniforms of traditional Dutch fisherman are made modern with Jonathan Christopher’s fabric development for the 2015/16 International Woolmark Prize