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Checkmate

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Argyle, plaid and gingham make a stunning debut as horizontal stripes make a play for fashion aficionados

It is a game of checks and balances on the catwalk as style gurus are experimenting with un-trammelled and somewhat whimsical charms of geometry with lines clicking on all the right fashion boxes. Maybe that is why London and Paris Fashion Weeks have been swept away with this euphonious trend, which is slowly making its way into the Indian customer’s acceptable wardrobe. 3.1 Philip Lim SS 2014 line had men’s shorts with drawstrings in monochromatic Gingham checks following the easy breezy philosophy, but it was the true genius , who played around with the bold and beautiful sequined horizontal lines on his interesting rendition of curvy body hugging, floor sweeping gowns.

Lines and checks have a story to tell and most designers have realised the fact that they can either slim you down or bulk you up. Neil Barrett’s spring-summer 2014 showcased black and white check shirts teamed up with shorts for men who simply like to it the classy way.

The star was Burberry SS ’14 and Christopher Bailey worked up his magic by giving it a distinct ’60s spin with pencil skirts quite like Cedric Charlier’s enticing print patterns, which were mostly large horizontal and vertical stripes. The grand old English lady of fashion, Vivienne Westwood introduced tangerine stripes on tucked-in ivory blouses, which you can wear with just about anything from natty, cropped trousers to slimming skirts. Antwerp-based Ann Demeulemeester SS ’14 men’s line was eventful with cropped striped pants for men, but Vicenza-based brand Bottega Veneta’s Tomas Maier revved up the style quotient with silk check shirts worn with casual woven loafers.

All kinds of checks have been in fashion from the diamond-shaped argyle with its 3D motifs to the endearing plaid with dual-coloured vertical and horizontal parallel lines. Tartan is yet to fi nd its place in the spotlight, but Gingham is what is fi nding many takers, with its lyrical monochromatic touch. Windowpane, which actually resembles one, is quite the rage among men, like the hounds tooth, but designer of Pero has adopted the Madras check complete with its vivacious colours. Back home, designers have loved the interplay of checks and stripes, textile revivalist being a frontrunner. She gave a shot of red to her flaming admiration for woven fabrics by converting them into snazzy jumpsuits or structured jackets.

“Since I refer to old textiles and pieces of world clothing, I have always seen either a check lining facing on the inside of the garment or even a tear on old garments are usually patched with check or stripes. The other reason is check and stripes were the fi rst patterns humans could easily achieve on a woven textile, and therefore one saw a lot of usage of these patterns in clothing from times immemorial,” says Arora. But others have followed suit, like Urvashi Kaur who in her spring ’14 collection titled ‘Semah’ used a lot of indigos, reds, greys, ochres, and ecru to show how organically hand-woven organic textiles from Kutch and Andhra effortlessly used this old technique of stripes. Kota, mul-mul, chanderi and linen lent poetic quality to the collection. “I have included mosaic styled geometric patterns, which I have paired with block prints and rouching/pleating to get this effect,” she adds.

Her tunics with asymmetric folds and hemlines, as well as angarakha-inspired Djellabas, cowl shalwars, Farsi pajamas and pleated shararas were an ode to lines. Veteran designer Ashish N. Soni, who has quietly, but meaningfully, been courting elegance by going back in time to the ’60s when Gingham was de rigueur. Taking inspiration from the Hollywood red carpet Soni line ‘La Dolce Vita’ had check circle skirts and interesting scooped waistcoats. “It was an era of decadence and checks kind of enlivened that air of glamour,” says Soni.

Ahmedabad-based Vikrant and Viral have been strong believers in checks and that is why you could see the chessboard appearing in 2013 and then again rushes of it in 2014, when they added it along with their chain stitch, marodi and appliqué on their robe jackets and layered halters. “I like to use checks in bits and pieces to highlight a certain portion. Like we did scarves, also sleeves in checks as well as under our layered skirts. We experimented with pin stripes, which offer a subdued appeal. Though the key was  combining a Western concept with Indian techniques like Bandhej, Kalamkari and indigo dyeing,” says Vikrant. Much like Pratima Pandey who in both her lines ‘Mood Swings’
and ‘Singing Sparrow’ used it to outline portions, probably to make a discreet point. “Though I don’t work with long, continuous lines, I like to break them,” says Pandey. Inspired by the city of love, ’s line ‘Paris Amour’ besides French twists had a fl urry of monochromatic black stripes and checks. When you think France, you cannot but help notice the pop art, imposing Eiffel Tower and, of course, the blossoms, which Kochhar turned into Indo-Western silhouettes, like umbrella skirts, kaftans, slit gowns and suspender skirts.

Besides blacks and whites, she had a field day with lime green, yellow, red, purple and teal as well as green interspersed with black and white. Stripes in horizontal and vertical forms were seen on gilets over white shirts worn with full-bodied skirts and pre-stitched saris and red floral prints were worn over checked and striped tights and jersey cholis. The striped top with a matching maxi skirt announced big and
loud that stripes are here to stay and how! Kochhar also did striped kurtas, which were underlined with black net covers. For men, monochromes with ombré effects for kurtas and horizontal striped bundgalas looked cool. But it was the Olympian in a striped jacket, kurta and roomy salwar, who nailed the look while displaying his boxing skills at Lakmé Fashion Week 2014.