Priyanka Chopra, Huma Abedin give standing ovation to Prabal Gurung at New York Fashion Week

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A model displays a creation by designer Mac Duggal. (Courtesy: Mac Duggal)

NEW YORK: India-born, Chicago-based designer Mac Duggal made his New York Fashion Week debut Feb. 11 at The Angel Orensanz Event Space in Manhattan. Sponsored by Art Hearts Fashion, the runway show featured the designer’s Fall/Winter 2017 collection.

Among designs showcased was Duggal’s celebrated Fabulouss! line, a prom collection for plus-sized teens, who often go unrepresented in the fashion industry. Since its beginning the line has become the gold standard in plus size clothing for those seeking a full-figured option.

Duggal’s designs have been previously covered by WWD, Elle, and Seventeen, coveted by A-list celebrities such as Eva Longoria, Khloe Kardashian, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige and Carrie Ann Inaba.

Drs. Sudhir and Sudha Parikh at the Mac Duggal show in Manhattan. (Courtesy: Mac Duggal)

Duggal’s enthusiasm for women’s fashion began with the merging of the colorfully rich designs of India’s royal history and opulent traditions. His early creations, mixing a classic silhouette and design aesthetic with a contemporary sophistication, have made his name to reckon with in the prom industry.

Duggal continued his success story by expanding his collection to 12 distinct social occasion lines. His success is highlighted by the many awards throughout his celebrated career; most recently was his induction into the Smithsonian Museum’s Family of Voices exhibit, which focuses on successful entrepreneurs in the United States.

A model displays a creation by designer Mac Duggal. (Courtesy: Mac Duggal)

Indian American designers continue to be a force in the industry, with both seasoned and emerging talent offering a range of visions to showcase on the runways. For the past few years, several Indian American designers like Naeem Khan, Bhibu Mahapatra, and Nepali-American designer Prabal Gurung have been regulars at the New York Fashion week. Their success and recognition in the mainstream has opened an avenue for several aspiring South Asian designers to venture into the coveted fashion event and display their designs.

One such designer is Charlotte, North Carolina-based Premal Badiani who also made her Fashion Week debut this year.

Models display creations by Nepali-American designer Prabal Gurung. (Courtesy: Mac Duggal)

Badiani’s latest collection ‘Root Cause’ is based on soft and fluid silhouettes in warm shades of maroon. The earthy undertones of the fabric are further complemented with the green and gold embroidery that endorses ‘green awareness’.

“The inspiration behind this collection is to bring awareness of the human impact on environment and to promote social responsibility by adopting sustainable fashion as a lifestyle choice,” Badiani said in a statement. “The primary fabric used is made from natural cellulosic fibres and produced from wood pulp, a natural renewable resource,” she said.

British-Indian designer Samina Mughal with models at her NYFW show as part of SMGlobal Catwalk. (Courtesy: Mac Duggal)

It is not just Indian American designers who are making their mark at the Fashion Week, but designers from India are also headed to the event. After receiving rave reviews at her debut last year, Mumbai-based designer Vaishali Shadangule showcased her creations here. Shandagule believes that the need for original work and acceptance of new ideas is creating new space for Indian designers in the international market.

“International fashion market is very open to accept new ideas and experiments and Indian designers are getting noticed globally. The consistency of innovative and original work is increasingly creating a new space for Indian fashion in the international segment,” Shadangule told IANS in an email interview from New York.

Indian American designer Mac Duggal made his New York Fashion Week debut. (Courtesy: Mac Duggal)

Her label Vaishali S, launched in 2001, is a Mumbai-based brand. Her vision is to bring India’s centuries-old weaving technique to the forefront in the global fashion scene. The label uses a modern and innovative approach that blends modern fashion trends with traditional Indian textiles. The current collection is a mix of Khadi, Merino wool and different weaves of India.

Apart from displaying their collections, designers have also known to make political and social statements with their clothes and themes at fashion events. The New York Fashion Week was no exception.

British-Indian designer Samina Mughal with models at her NYFW show as part of SMGlobal Catwalk. (Courtesy: Mac Duggal)

Gurung, who displayed his collection, Feb. 12, punctuated his fall presentation with a bold statement: Models, including Bella Hadid and plus-size women Candice Huffine and Marquita Pring, shed the tailored, colorful outerwear and separates from the collection and instead marched down the catwalk in tees bearing feminist phrases such as “The Future is Female,” “Voices for Choices” and “We Will Not Be Silenced”. Gurung told the Hollywood Reporter he was inspired by the Women’s March he attended in New York City in January.

“I wanted to capture what I felt there,” he said.”I read about what Gloria Steinem was doing in the ’70s and the movement, but I never thought I’d live to see that kind of thing. But when I went there, and I saw all the women there, I thought, ‘Oh my God.'” He continued, “They set an example for the rest of us that by peaceful resistance, we can make some changes. It took women to do that. So I wanted to capture that.”

Priyanka Chopra, who wore a creation by Gurung – a black top matched with an asymmetric white thigh-high slit studded hem skirt – was among several celebrities who were present for Gurung’s show. Spotted also were Huma Abedin and Saraj Jessica Parker, with Chopra in the front row. Gurung got a standing ovation.

Orissa-born, New York City-based Mohapatra will showcase his creations Feb. 15. Mohapatra studied at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology and won the 1997 Critics’ Award for Best Evening Wear Designer of the Year. After working with high profile brands including Halston and J. Mendel, Mohapatra set out on his own to launch his eponymous label in 2008 and has gained a name for himself with exquisite evening dresses that flow and flatter the female form.

Arguably the most popular Indian American designer Naeem Khan’s gowns have become a favorite of First Lady Michelle Obama. He displayed his designs Feb. 14. Raised in Mumbai, Khan’s vast knowledge of textiles was influenced by his father and grandfather, both of whom designed clothing for India’s royal families. Khan started his own line in 2003 and has dressed other well-known names, including Beyonce, Kate Middleton, and Taylor Swift.

“My family has been in the fashion business for over one hundred years in India, so it has always been a part of my life,” Khan told NBC News. He moved to the U.S. when he was 19 to work for Halston, and that was his education in the art of construction, fabric development, and draping. “I have brought the tradition and craftsmanship of my heritage to very classic and sleek shapes, and I think that is what sets me apart,” he said.

(This post was updated and revised 2/15/2017)

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