Designer Narresh Kukreja shares reality show experience, talks last-minute fixes and ‘screaming fashion’
Timing also played a crucial role in the show.
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One half of the luxury label, creative director Narresh Kukreja recently participated in a fashion design competition series on Netflix - ‘Next In Fashion’ - where 18 professional designers from across the world competed against each other for a chance to debut their collections at Net-a-Porter.
Design vs. Screaming Fashion
Despite having spent ten years in the business (18 if you count designing with his partner Shivan Bhatiya) and a full month prior to the show just brushing up on his NIFT skills, Kukreja said he still found the show to be challenging because of the intensity of the challenges and the different factors involved.
“When they throw a challenge at you, you’re always thinking of the full look,” Kukreja told ET Panache on the sidelines of Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2020. “Yes you’re thinking on creating an impact but you’re also thinking of the finer things like what buttons, what details. If I’m doing a striped fabric or a checked fabric, then I need to mitre it correctly. You need to get your patterns right so that even at the seams, the lines meet perfectly. As designers, we’re used to thinking like that. (But) on television all that matters is that it needs to look loud, it needs to look screaming fashion. So altering your design ideology can be challenging. You have to choose between what you stand for as a designer or whether you want to just entertain people. You had this constant pressure of giving them content, of creating something loud, something brash, for the sake of it. You couldn’t just do something very beautifully finished. And that’s a difficult choice.”
Timing also played a crucial role in the show. For some challenges, the designers had only 48 hours between receiving the challenge and showcasing the final designed-and-stitched product on the runway.
“Time was very tight. Apart from creativity, it tested other aspects like time management, team skills, how willing are you to work cohesively with your partner, do you believe in fighting to take out best of each other, do you believe in letting the other person call the shots etc.,” he explained.
The ‘Last Man’
However, the toughest challenge for Kukreja was designing without Bhatiya who he’s been comfortable working with for the last 17 years. Not having him on hand forced him to step out of his comfort zone and discover another facet to himself.
“I discovered that I’m good at quick-fixing,” said Kukreja. “It was something that I always used to depend on Shivan for because he’s very good at doing last-minute fixing and I’m somebody who likes to follow a process so I take my own time to do it. But here (on the show) I didn’t have him so if the thread was not being cut right, I had to do it myself. If the pattern wasn’t falling right, I had to do it myself. It gave rise to that ‘last man’ who fixes things just so that it appears fine on camera. That part of me didn’t exist before.”
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“For the Red Carpet Challenge, inspired by the diagonal drapes of the traditional Sari and tiny fabric buttons that symbolise our indie closures handmade by women to button up their blouses, used across the front and the signature Shivan & Narresh ‘bifurcated’ back of the gown.” - Narresh Kukreja (@narresh) (Creative Director, SHIVAN & NARRESH) also a part of the series, Next In Fashion (@nextinfashion) on Netflix (@netflix) judged by Alexa Chung (@alexachung) and Tan France (@tanfrance) is a tv series where talented designers from across the world showcase the best of their abilities. . . #NextInFashion #Netflix #NetflixIndia #ShivanAndNarresh #RedCarpet #Gown #ResortWear
Asked about the creation he’s most proud of and Kukreja readily points to the gown in the first challenge.
“I think it was quintessentially Shivan & Narresh. They asked who was the outfit for and for me, it was any celebrity walking down the Cannes red carpet. We started our journey in Cannes, our first show was there so for me, it was going back to my history and my roots. I would any day put that outfit on any of the celebrities going to Cannes.”