Known primarily to play their fashion with contemporary styling, Shantanu Mehra and Nikhil Mehra dove into fashion; first with their Indian menswear couture line in 1999, hence the birth of "Shantanu and Nikhil". Signature women's collections, both prˆt-a-porter and diffusion soon followed, and the designer duo stepped onto the field of high fashion with their debut diffusion line in 2001.
Beauty and time share one infallible attribute: consistency and this duo pour that quality into each of their creative endeavours, perpetually striking a balance between quality and aesthetic.
Shantanu did his MBA from the University of Toledo, Ohio, USA and Nikhil, is a product of FIDM (Fashion Institute of Fashion & Merchandise) Los Angeles. They decided to pool in their entrepreneurial & designing skills in a business that was not new to the family. This led to the birth of Shantanu & Nikhil as a brand label in 1998. Today, Shantanu & Nikhil, is a label with an eye on the global young and trendy Indian garments market. The company is in business of manufacturing high quality Indian garments both for the Indian and the overseas market.
Career of Shantanu & Nikhil
Shantanu always felt that the Indian fashion industry had the creativity, a vast variety of fabrics, and a treasure of kashidkari to prosper in a huge industry, but what it lacked was professionalism. The degree in business administration helped Shantanu to understand the market, its needs and the various intricacies involved in effectively marketing their product.
Since his early school days, Nikhil was always the more creative one. He joined Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, California for an advanced fashion design program. He has been awarded with some of the most prestigious awards and scholarships. Nikhil was invited to design a collection for a prestigious store "Georgio Beverly Hills" in Los Angeles and was featured in L.A. Times to be the only Indian designer to have had a show in Universal Studio, Hollywood.
Saluting the new age of power dressing at work and elegant chic socially, in a short span of three years, Shantanu & Nikhil have a series of signature stores to their credit besides having a strong presence at a variety of designer stores internationally. The designers focus on tastefully body conscious silhouettes through simple yet sophisticated designs, such as the luxurious jersey rouged tops, has made them a favourite throughout the country. Shantanu and Nikhil's way with the shirts for Indian cricketers and tennis players has become emblematic of their love of chic sportswear dressing.
The spirit of their work is the client in mind. The fabrics tend to be both delicate and rich like the chiffon silks, silk crepes, silk georgette, Indian hand woven jacquards and brocades along with leather, wool and suede. This characteristically Indian aesthetic of Shantanu & Nikhil include electric colours, rich & sensuous fabrics.
The label has two signature stores in the prime locations of Delhi, besides having a strong presence in couture store internationally. The label's prˆt-a-porter lines are available through BE, in India. Internationally, the label is available in Dubai, Jeddah, Spain, London, Birmingham and Vancouver.
Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra's designs were featured basically on embroidery. An array of silhouettes for both men and women were displayed in fabrics such as duppioni silk, crepe and georgette. A liberal use of sequin embroidery and mirror work on borders and placement motifs were used in clothes like short kurtas, sarees, pants and blouses for women and sherwanis worn with khulla pajamas and comfortable pants. The range aimed at the wedding season clientele.
Shantanu & Nikhil, unveiled the adventurous moods of structured stripes, a key inspiration for its Fall-Winter 2003 Collection. The designer duo showcased their western line for the bold and the vivacious young women on the first day of the Lakme India Fashion Week 2003. Their collection was the combination of Indian and Western tradition with bright and lively colours. In the western collection: Silhouettes were slim, trousers were flared while skirts had bias cuts. Hems were asymmetrical and all lengths. Fabrics were plains or stripes. Next came a series of sharp black and white chalk stripe outfits. They were well cut and snappy. The collection was all about an exclusive prˆt-e-couture. With a bit of the idealism and bit of shock, this new lady like attire is for the aristocratic and zesty jet setters with its sophisticated and vibrant feminity.
In sync with the international trends, silhouette was the main focus of the collection. For the first time at least on the Indian ramp, dresses had formed an integral part of the collection and showcased as pure silhouettes with distinct sleeve details, asymmetric hemlines and unusual necklines. The collection also had sporty indulgences by way of elegant treatment of engineered and candy stripe through new-age techniques of pattern making, thus strongly endorsing the signature style of Shantanu & Nikhil. There was also an interesting variation of military dressing where short jackets with big collars have been teamed with combat trousers.
The fabrics used in the collection are hand woven ikhat voil, which showed its strength and style in colours like pink, grey, magenta, and blue put together delicately, fluid georgettes in vibrant colours with interesting satin trimmings. Stretch cotton has been used interestingly with hand stitched self crafted stripes. Also, Victorian hand woven jacquards in heavy twills are used to give the collection a prˆt-e-couture feel. The collection was affordably priced from Rs 850-Rs. 5500.
The designers, this season had chosen shades of pink as the main colour of the collection. But 'Shantanu & Nikhil' has used colours in combination like olive green, aqua blue, and yellow as coordinates. There was a strong comeback of black & white in this collection which creates a rhythmic momentum in the presentation of the collection. Sporty combinations like pink, blue, white, and black together formed a dominant part of the colour palette. The highlight of the collection was the newly developed signature print, with an abstract design in seven colours. Glamorous gold teamed with aqua blue made its presence felt in prˆt-a-couture. 'Shantanu & Nikhil' completed the collection with accessories, like shoes and bags, created in almost all colours of winter palette.
Inspired by the emotional reaction to the harshness of the Christian era, Shantanu and Nikhil recreated the raw and pure beauty in their collection entitled 'After Death'. The colour palette was adapted from non-coloured dust, stone and metal hues, and occasionally embellished in silver, ferrous and black. Fabrics ranged from the free-floating chiffons to handloom silks, jacquards, wools and flimsy rayon jersey. Texture was predominant, be it in form of embroidery, feathering, seaming or just the natural texture of the fabric. The embellishment was unique in that it had movement reminiscent of strokes from Van Gogh paintings - strong and in bold curved arcs. Antique coins were also used on the garments, to enhance the sense of antiquity. The collection consisted of exquisite deconstructed and restructured architectural jackets and skirts, many of them fluting into feminine flared hems. The dresses had fine line sequins in black and silver, also in sweeping arcs. The knife-pleated skirts were left elegantly unfinished and unrefined. Coin encrusted shrugs covered the shoulders of the draped blouses. These were made of gold coloured rayon jersey that lent itself beautifully to the gentle drapes cowls and natural folds that were the chief design details of the asymmetric organic shaped blouses.
The designer duo's collection was a tribute to Sikh women. Women of this community are known to be strong-and this was skilfully depicted through the duos colour palette. Navy blue and grey were the primary colours in this collection. Soft fabrics like silks, georgettes and shifli, sprinkled with handloom polka-dotted zari, combined with masculine structures over balloon pants, churidars, flared shorts and the like. Chiffons, exaggerated drapes, wrap styles and bias cut skirts added a gentle touch to this collection.
The theme of this collection was named Elizabeth's Attic. Queen Elizabeth I as a bizarre vision in the last part of her reign can be visualized while seeing this collection. Elizabeth can be imagined bejewelled in her wig and ruff and utterly artificial. Shantanu invites one to consider another Elizabeth - an extraordinary woman in a man's world, portrayed through fragments of her wardrobe in this collection.
Their distinctive signature has evolved as a fusion of textile detail, refined luxury, and meticulous tailoring. They create couture, diffusion, prˆt-a-porter and accessory lines, which are Indian in their sensibility, yet international in their appeal. Their unique combination of historical opulence and contemporary chic are now living themselves to couture.