Inside Shantanu & Nikhil’s couture army
The designers' newest couture collection, The Regiment, is an ode to the armed forces
“Wherever there is upheaval — and that, by the way, is a constant now — you’ll find the armed forces helping citizens,” says designer Nikhil Mehra. The creative force behind the brand, Shantanu & Nikhil, has been feeling particularly patriotic lately, an emotion that’s guiding his label’s 180 degree shift in aesthetic. Shantanu Mehra, the business brains, chimes in, “I think the underlying message was not really about the military uniform, camouflage or fighting and protest, it was about using the symbolism of our forces and making men and women gender equal. And if it can have a strong narrative of fashion and fortitude, then so be it.”
(extreme right) A dangerously high slit on an otherwise conservative silhouette draws all eyes to the wearer
Couture can be a complicated beast. Often fantastical in construction and embellishment, it can reduce even the most confident mortal to a mere clotheshorse, a human hanger on which the designer unleashes his bag of tricks. What struck me as most compelling here was how the strong silhouettes and crisp draping focused all eyes on the wearer. Here, the models didn’t ‘sashay’, they strode with a sense of power and presence.
“By adding a bit of masculinity to our women’s collection and adding the softer elements of drapery to our menswear, we’ve created something different from what everyone else is doing,” adds Shantanu. “We think of ourselves as the anti-trend designers.”