A merry interplay of digital prints, 3d ornamentation and oversized yet precision-laced tailoring – that’s Dhruv Kapoor’s newest offering ‘Embracer’ for you. Showcased at Milan Fashion Week 2023 alongside stalwarts like Armani and Prada, it’s safe to say that the European city has become a familiar sartorial playground for the Istituto Marangoni alumnus.
Summed up as a coalescence of creative paradoxes, this sentiment urges us to embrace our individuality and is a constant throughout the collection. Featuring signature Dhruv Kapoor silhouettes with groovier additives yet with the same design ethos running congruent, it’s always a delight to witness homegrown talent climb the ranks internationally.
ELLE India caught up with Dhruv Kapoor to discuss the vision, process and development of his recent collection. Have a read below:
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ELLE India: Tell us about your latest presentation at MFW and the process that went into making it.
Dhruv Kapoor: The Embracer revolves around the concept of Alter-egos. It plays with multiple versions of the self and embraces each version. You can be soft and fierce; vulnerable and strong. You can be an amalgamation of the traditional and contemporary; a romantic and realist. Your obedience can be met with rebellion and your femininity with fire. We live in a universe of different perceptions where paradoxes can be full of possibilities.
ELLE: This season, you’ve attempted to draw a parallel between Godzilla’s infamous monsters and our alter-egos through fashion – how did you manage to translate this into your silhouettes?
DK: It was a combination of colour, shape and surface that helped us communicate different perspectives. From the soft aggression of the distressed denim and the fearlessness of the brush strokes to the romantic inserts of lace and the healing crystals on a blazer. The collection also portrayed the powerful monsters of Godzilla as different traits of our personalities. From the power shoulders of the 80s to the unusual pairing of the 70s and the subcultural undercurrent from the 1950s-60s—the collection played with a large mix of elements to define our personalities.
ELLE: There’s a calculated juxtaposition between the chaotic surface treatment of the garments in your collection and the clean cuts, is it an intentional approach or has it subconsciously become Dhruv Kapoor’s signature?
DK: We approach them as the subconscious and the conscious mind. Through seasonal projections, we aim to balance both these narratives and tap into two polar segments in the market by seamlessly merging the two together. It is an effortless process and naturally evolves in the collection. Initially, it was intentionally placed, however over time it seamlessly develops during the design process.
ELLE: Milan Fashion Week is now becoming your home turf. How do you manage to challenge yourself season after season, while retaining a trademark aesthetic that has made your brand identifiable?
DK: It’s the intangible power of clothes that we wish to use and target the human mind. I personally don’t refer to trends or my surrounding for inspiration. It is essential for each seasonal projection to naturally evolve into a complete collection. The slashing part is my favourite—towards the closing time of the collection, we declutter our sketches, test fits, colours or prints. It is then that the collection takes shape and retains a clear tone/message. We later revisit discarded approaches and tweak them to restart the design process. Each season is an addition to the previous one.
ELLE: Your quiet approach to gender fluidity has always been seamless, how do you attain that without making it a stand-out element?
DK: By maintaining a balance and not forcing gender into our design process. When my team and I approach the design process, we don’t filter by gender. Our aim is always to maintain a genderful vibe.
ELLE: In terms of fabrics, techniques and surface ornamentation, what have your introduced or experimented with this season?
DK: Fall’23 juxtaposes polar mindsets, bringing them in perfect sync through unusual pairings. A vibrant mix of colours and patterns that seamlessly fuse tradition and technology, birthing a new aesthetic for modern society. This collection explores multiple facets of our myriad selves—from asymmetric tailoring to slouchy sweatpants and giant tracksuits to distressed denim. A play on proportions and a wide array of textiles, that are partly recycled and partly upcycled, remain constant.
Still-life patterns exude a tranquil state of mind, while soft aggression is channelled through vivid brushstrokes. Handcrafted embroideries by Indian artisans, including a flaming heart, large foliage and multi-dimensional heads, come with a fascinating interplay of materials and techniques.