He is as energetic and flamboyant as his collections. She sort of hides behind her silken soft hair, and smiles like a little girl in Wonderland. They are one of my favorite couples in fashion. She is the driving force behind his creative vision. He is the young, good-looking fashion designer known for juxtaposing classic silhouettes with an unique contemporary edge. Vj Balhara and Cynthia Lim Blahara work together yet again to bring out a collection that in the designer’s opinion, made him strip his creative core to the bare basics – The Age Of Innocence.
Vj with Cynthia (In black)
Typically, a fashion show is no big deal. Take a sheet of paper, cut open a vein, and slowly bleed to death. Well, kidding! A designer collection is a result of months of grueling labour, late nights, galleons of coffee, frustration, false starts, and apprehensions. For Vj and Cynthia, it’s just another day at the workshop.
For the uninitiated, Vj is one of my favorite Indian designers, and is fast becoming a force to reckon with in Indian fashion. I admire him for the unique brand of fiery panache that he brings to an otherwise slightly clichéd Indian couture. While Vj toils to bring his creative vision to life, Cynthia’s inputs are what gives his collections their unique identity. Whether it’s the colorful birds adorning the models’ hairdo, or silver plates and Oriental hairstyles for an ethnic Indian collection, Cynthia’s styling of Vj’s runway collections gives them the drama and extravagance that is essential and integral to fashion.
But what makes this designer’s work close to my heart is that he lends a part of himself to his collections. Vj is real, and grounded, yet suffers no fools quietly. And Cynthia, despite her quiet and reserved demeanor, is a freewheeling thinker, and explorer. Which is why even the most hard-wired critics cannot dismiss Vj’s collections as glorified “bridals”. If designing for an Indian woman, and drawing from Indian influences, rather can steal “western trends” can tackily and hastily be labeled as bridal, then Vj surely is a culprit. For he designs for a woman who isn’t afraid of flaunting her heritage and culture. In true fashion sense, Vj Balhara is a bit of a rebel.
For his Winter-Festive collection, Vj has played with Aristocratic influences fused with Bohemian playfulness to create full length tiered dresses, cocktail dresses, skirts, blouses, and wide legged pants. Throwing caution, and strait-jacketed designing rules, to the wind, Vj has created anti-fit garments replete with bizarre color-blocking. This time, he went on a destructive mode, driving his team up the wall when he refused to settle for anything that did not perfectly match his vision. He states sheepishly, “I’d like a design for a dress, and then after a couple of days, I could not bear to look at it. I would rework it, and transform it into a completely different design.” He adds that he has eventually ended up with as many designs in his storage as he will have on the runway. Some creative process, that!
It’s a sign of his own brand of innocence that Vj still gets anxious about his collections. Having spent countless hours over the 25 creations that will be unveiled on the runway this Friday, knowing Vj, he is perhaps already in two minds whether he has done the best he could have. And knowing Cynthia, she is just quietly busy styling the collection with her own mark of raw quirkiness. And you all know me; I am waiting in anticipation, wondering what this duo’s emotional power, fuelled by fantasy and rebellion, has in store for the fashion hungry.
Cynthia's creative influence can be seen in the unusual styling of Vj's collections