The Regiment

Fearless Fashion from Shantanu & Nikhil

Amid the splendor of colonial-era elegance—think marble floors, staff in period uniform, ceiling fans, rattan furniture—the Imperial Hotel is a regal reminder of India’s history.

On July 15, it was also the venue for a striking Fall/Winter 2017 fashion show by the renowned Indian fashion duo Shantanu & Nikhil. The narrative of their new collection, The Regiment, had a military theme that was more than evident in the spirit of courage, flamboyance and cultural pride that shone out from the catwalk, perfectly in step with The Imperial’s interior.

“The Regiment derives its inspiration from the three strong virtues of the Indian armed forces—Discipline, Pride, and Togetherness,” was how Shantanu & Nikhil described their work. “It’s a crisp salute to everything Nehruvian. A dramatic and heroic re-appropriation of male presence through female form is the cornerstone of the collection, where feminine/masculine, hard/soft, defend/protect is the new dialog.” Military-style outfits topped with envelope caps and berets in shades of navy and gold, gray and maroon, khaki and camouflage, were embellished with crystallized medal-style brooches.

Bold crystals, including Skull cuts and Chris Bangle’s innovative designs for Swarovski, bedecked the austere, androgynous silhouettes. Other notable design features were the convertible Nehru collars, bejeweled epaulettes, antique crystal effects, and vintage handcrafted coin buttons. As can be expected of India’s unrivaled decorative skills, the artisanal skills and beadwork on display were second to none, a rich reminder of a bygone era. This wry nod to vintage British Raj imperialism, as well as a feminine subversion of masculine values, struck an intriguingly contemporary chord. Mesmerizing.