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The Bengal Fashion Expo 2017

Kolkata, February 11, 2017 By Payel Das: In a first of its kind unique theme Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals, Kolkata, and The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry came together for the first edition of the theme based fashion show The Bengal Fashion Expo 2017 (TBFE), at ITC Sonar on Saturday, February 11, 2017. The brainchild of Dr Rupali Basu, President and CEO ER, Apollo Hospitals Group, India, and Director, The Bengal Fashion Expo, the mega event, based on the unique theme of ‘Walk the Winter in Cotton’, presented a whole new look for the season, moving away from the traditional thought of getting out your silks in winter. The show was crafted by some of the best designers of Eastern India, a region renowned for its creative use of the natural fabric. The Bengal Fashion Expo is woven around the concept of promoting Bengal, Bengal fashion and business. As Dr Rupali Basu says, it is all about ‘Bengal’s own and India’s finest.’

TBFE’s Walk the Winter in Cotton edition showcased the latest creations of seven top designers of Kolkata, including Shamlu Dudeja, Sharbari Datta, Nandita Raja, Agnimitra Paul, Sayantan Sarkar, Pranay Baidya and Abhishek Ray. With choreography by fashionista Pinky Kenworthy, and makeup by Abhijit Chanda, the ramp-line included renowned names like Sneha Ghosh, Runa Laha, Ishika, Sonal, Shubhonita, Jessica Aaron, Tamori, Ruchira, Akbar Hasan, Sumit, Samrat and Satyabrata, with Biplab Ganguli compering the ceremonies. The two-hour long event which started on time saw over 600 guests in attendance including the glitz and glitterati of the city. The evening was compered by Biplab Ganguli.


Dr Rupali Basu, President and CEO ER, Apollo Hospitals Group, India, andDirector, The Bengal Fashion Expo, observed, “The Bengal Fashion Expo represents our innate belief in the potential of the cotton textile and apparels industry in Eastern India – which has been the traditional mainstay of millions of artisans and craftsmen of the region over the ages. Our idea is to create a platform for showcasing the best designs of Eastern India based on the theme of cotton as a fabric of choice in winter. To help preserve traditional livelihoods, and promote newer avenues of growth for our youth, we also aim to leverage the occasion to promote fresh opportunities in the realm of textiles and associated industries, besides offering an excellent platform for designers, fashion houses, and other key players in the indigenous and ethnic fashion industry to highlight their creative talent to the people of the region and beyond. We look forward to continue this as a Signature Event in the coming years, and hope that the initiative would help restore our State to its rightful place on the National scene.”

MrSutanu Ghosh, President, The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said,“The Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry with a long and illustrious history, had been involved  with the industrial and developmental activities, ranging from the brick-and-mortar age to the high technology, silicon chip era. With the course of time the Chamber has alsoincreased its canvas of activities and is engaged in advocacy vis-à-vis adoption of an interceptive approach aimed at developing emergent technologies and sectors which are the needs of the hour. Our new approaches include development of sectors like Agriculture, Education, Skill Development and many more. Keeping in tune with the times, the present initiative of the Chamber ‘The Bengal Fashion Expo- Walk the Winter in Cotton’ focuses on developing textiles with a special focus on fabrics like cotton. The event stands to showcase the textile industry, enriching the business ecology it inhabits, and isbringing forward gaps and trying to tap emergent opportunities in the field of cotton textiles.”

Ms Swarnali Kanjilal of Adi Mohani Mohan Kanjilal, Mr Sanjay Agarwal of Century Ply, Ms Keya Seth of Keya Seth Exclusive and Ms Anita Agarwal of Minu Sarees are the Associate Partners of the event, while FDDI and Fratelli Wines are the Backstage Partner and Pouring Partner, respectively.

The evening saw Subhodip Ghosh, Director General, BCC&I, Sukanya Bose, Deputy Director, BCC&I; actor Koneenica Bandopadhyay, Danseuse Alokananda Ray, Jennifer Heemstra, Nilanjana Chakraborty, Tanusree Shankar, Actor Saheb Bhattacharya, Rupanjana Mitra, Locket Chatterjee and Mahua Chatterjee in attendance, among others.




About the Designers

o Shamlu Dudeja

Shamlu is a name now synonymous with Kantha, a tangible cultural heritage, a beloved rural craft, of West Bengal.Shamlu Dudeja has revitalized and reinvented Kantha from a poor man’s quilting stitch, to become one of the most revered styles of embellishment for textiles, both in India and abroad.

The present collection of Kantha is taking us back to the original form of layering the cotton fabrics, used to make quilts.  All outfits have a minimum of 2 layers of fabric. Ponchos, shawls, long dresses, jackets, and even saris have all been crafted from 2 or more layers of cotton fabric.The difference today is of converting these 2-layered quilts into beautiful outfits, which are popular with the younger generation. It is also to bring a tribute to the women of rural Bengal, who sit in their mud-huts, painstakingly and meticulously embroidering fine textiles at their door steps, at a time convenient to them.

o  Sharbari Datta

A three-day workshop was held in 1991 at the Conclave, by the name ‘Purono Kolkata’, meaning ‘Old Kolkata’, introducing colour and creativity to the otherwise dull and much neglected industry of ethnic menswear. Sharbari Datta became an overnight sensation in the world of men’s fashion. Sharbari Datta is the pioneer to give a shake to the country’s fashion scene, when she brought in the volcanic eruption of colour, threads, art and textiles in menswear.

For the first time, the designer is working with cotton. Renowned for her occasion wear, Datta takes a break from silks to weave a story in cotton using bright colours and her quintessential embroidery work in traditional wear and Indo Western silhouettes.

o   Nandita Raja/ Kanishkas

Founded by Dilip & Nandita Raja, Kanishka’s Kolkata is a pioneer of contemporary hand block printing and handloom weaving in India for over five decades. Kanishka’s, founded in 1970, is known for its use of unique traditional techniques of producing handloom & block printed sarees and textiles. Every process in the making of its products is completely manual using skilled craftsmen.

Kanishkas presents a new line of unique cottons and handwoven Khadis from Bengal and rare Habaspuri Orissa woven sarees that reflect a classy aesthetic for the winter. Combined with the sarees, a specific collection of layered and textured jackets, structured silhouettes inspired by Japanese architectural forms complement each other for the winter season. Using highly textured woven fabrics and unusual Kanishkas prints, the collection reflects the breadth of cottons in winter.  In addition, a new line of textile jewellery has been created. This jewellery collection uses multiple layers of twisted, spliced cut and structured cloth to create unique forms.



o   Agnimitra Paul

Agnimitra Paul is a designer with a difference.  All her personal shows are for a noble cause.  Agnimitra says “In my country where more than half the populations are below the poverty line, making bridal lehangas for two lakhs and more sounds frivolous.  So I want to take fashion to a different level …fashion for a cause, fashion for the people.” So her shows whether for the visually challenged children of ‘National Association for the Blind’ or for the acid burned victims of Dhaka, she has been successful to raise money for these causes by auctioning her clothes.

In her true style, the designer presents a series of cotton jackets that highlight her tryst with Madhubani paintings. Her colour palette comprises off white, orange, yellow, magenta and grey. The jackets are teamed up with skirts, loose pants and sarees infusing the best of Bengal.

o   Sayantan Sarkar

SayantanSarkar, a design graduate from NIFT Kolkata, established the company Cyan Creations in the year 2003 as a start-up dealing with Kids wear in knits only. A production house primarily focussed on the middle-east export market for kids knitted t-shirts. In 2006 the company launched its first domestic production and created an in-house workshop of more than sixty skilled workers and a production capacity of about ten thousand pieces a month. In 2007 the couture label ‘SayantanSarkar’ was launched as a women’s wear label working primarily with the traditional crafts and weaves of India.

The present collection Beyond Barriers is a Boho-chic collection of layered separates in vibrant hues of Mustard, Pale Blue, Pink with tones of browns and indigo blue. It reflects a paradigm shift from the normal when checks and denims, known to be apt for structured clothing gives way to  enormous fluid and draped silhouettes. It celebrates the wander-lust spirit of the new age women where no boundaries make or define them.

o   PranayBaidya

Armed with a degree in Fashion Design from the Design & Arts College of NZ, and invaluable design industry experience as Creative Director at the New Zealand Wool Growers Marketing Ltd, having pioneered many fashion events in New Zealand, PranayBaidya returned to his roots in Calcutta to launch the label ‘PRANAYBAIDYA ATELIER’ in 2011. His hand crafted pieces, built on the vision fusing old with the new, blend tradition and innovation while deeply embodying the cultural values of this many splendored nation.

In the present collection, PranayBaidya Atelier presents a winter festive collection inspired by the rich heritage cotton of Bengal showcasing jacket dresses, dhoti pants, jacket blouses, sarees, lehengas and menswear. Bengal cotton, cotton muslin and cotton matka in delicate hues of dust pink, peach, grey, brown and rich blue come to life in contemporary digital and block prints. Intricate thread work embroidery adds a couture flavour.

o   Abhishek Ray

Abhishek Ray is a graduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology(Kolkata) and has worked as  the creative head of a reputed Kolkata based fashion house for almost a decade. During this period he represented thebrand in all the fashion weeks and events across India and his work has been critically acclaimed and adorned by many celebrities and known faces. He established his own brand called Abhishek Ray in 2014 in partnership with Abhilasha Shaw Arora, which celebrates modern Indian fashion combining traditional textiles and surface ornamentation techniques with contemporary silhouettes and patterns.

The designer unveiled his evening wear line, fabricated out of various cotton blends in a dark colour palette of brown and black with occasional splashes of bright colours. Indigenous techniques like block-printing and tie-n-dye are combined with vibrant floral embroideries to create an international style with an Indian soul.

The star showstoppers for The Bengal Fashion Expo 2017 included super model Nayanika Chatterjee for Shamlu Dudeja; Famed percussionist Bickram Ghosh and wife Jaya Seal for Nandita Raja; Actor Mumtaz Sorcar for Pranay Baidya; Danseuse Sreenanda Shankar for Abhishek Ray and four acid attack victims for Agnimitra Paul.




About The Bengal Fashion Expo

The brainchild of Dr Rupali Basu, President and CEO ER, Apollo Hospitals Group, India, The Bengal Fashion Expo (TBFE), was conceived with a vision to showcase the best designs of Eastern India, based on the theme of cotton as a fabric in winter.


Exclusivity of the event is based on its central focus – encouraging the use of cotton as the new age winter fabric, and showcasing the finest creations of some of the finest designs


The focus of the event is on nurturing and strengthening business opportunities in the realm of textile and apparel industries, besides offering an excellent platform for textile designers, fashion houses, and other key players in the indigenous and ethnic fashion industry to highlight their creativity.

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