Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor (L) showcases a creation by designer Manish Malhotra (R) during Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Winter/Festive 2015 in Mumbai on August 26, 2015. Image Credit: AFP

The most anticipated show of the first day of Lakme Fashion Week’s Winter/Festive (LFW) 2015 line-up was undoubtedly Manish Malhotra’s. What’s a Manish Malhotra show without the heady scent of Bollywood’s most famous faces, both young and old, in attendance, striking a pose for the flash bulbs and indulging in selfies with star-struck ushers and guests alike on the ramp floor? Malhotra showcased his first menswear line, on Wednesday evening, an hour later than the scheduled time, at the legendary Mehboob Studio in Mumbai. Called the Gentlemen’s Club — not to be mistaken with the New York cab hoardings bearing the same name, indulging in risque club acts that have almost nothing to do with clothes. Also on the first day, Nikhil Thampi debuted a bridal collection and Payal Singhal was inspired by gold jewellery of centuries gone by. Here are the highlights of the first full day of LFW, which ends on Sunday.

Manish Malhotra

The stage floor was converted into a ramp, with chairs hanging from the ceiling instead of glimmering chandeliers, with leather chairs and tables placed on the runway alongside a mini grand piano to add to the masculine feel of the show. All that was missing was a brown-eyed French mastiff and a snooty English butler walking around with a silver tea tray. Set to live jazz, the show opened with male models walking out in grey trench coats (yes, in the Mumbai heat) in emerald, cobalt and burgundy velvet suits, embroidered velvet shoes, crest-emblazoned blazers, sherwanis and gold-embroidered ties and tuxedos with the female models sashaying around in glamorous gowns and lehngas — purely for ornamental effect this time around.

“The Gentlemen’s Club is very special to me as it marks the start of a new journey for my decade-old label. This new collection is for the confident, impeccably groomed man who likes to mix it up — a modern perspective blended with rich Indian tradition,” said Malhotra, who is set to open a store in Dubai early 2016.

The new guard in Bollywood — Arjun Kapoor, Ayushmann Khurrana, Shraddha Kapoor and Sooraj Pancholi (with his gorgeous mother Zarina Wahab) made for exciting photo-ops, as did Malhotra’s predictable glam squad of loyalists.

But it was when the handsome showstopper, Ranbir Kapoor, walked out onto the runway in a burgundy velvet suit paired with a geometric shirt that the show literally stopped, with a collective sigh. Everyone’s hands flew in the air, aiming to get a good shot of him on their smartphones and iPads, and there was more oestrogen than testosterone in the room at this point in the show.

But the question that remained unanswered at the end of the show was how many of the guests in attendance were there to see Kapoor in the flesh and how many were there for the love of fashion and Malhotra’s clothes.

Nikhil Thampi

Nikhil Thampi exhibited a bridal trousseau line, a first for him, called Alchemy, with the models walking down the runway, floating visions in white gossamer. But then, all too soon, heavy metal (accompanied by extremely loud, nerve-jangling live percussionist beats) in the shape of thick belts, elaborate sari blouses and pallus, dominated every garment that came out on the runway, be it the halters, crop tops, gowns, anarkalis or lungi saris — in a manner most rigid.

Just looking at the models walking by in visibly restrictive garments, especially the gold bandage top, made one feel that they were caged in by the clothes and caused a great sense of discomfort, and not the kind that is caused by strutting around in six-inch stilettos all day in pursuit of fashion goals. While most of the garments made for exciting, avant-garde visuals on the runway, in hues of vermilion, nude, white, gold and mango, some of the garments looked plain shoddy to the discerning eye, as they were ill-fitted on the models.

Thampi’s line offered little or nothing for a real woman, whatever her size, or a real bride, but would make for some fashion mystique in magazine layouts. If the designer was taking the word alchemy literally, between the linens, silks, polyester blends and the metal infusion of his designs, he definitely succeeded in achieving some of the desired effect on the runway. But if he were seeking the same in realism, then he needs to go back to the drawing board.

Payal Singhal

Taking inspiration from gold jewellery of centuries gone by, Payal Singhal’s Maaya collection was, in one word, stunning. She stuck to earthy tones and hues and did not go for gold literally, given that’s the colour of the season. Each ensemble, intrinsically Indian in design and spirit, looked better than the one before it as models walked by, such was the beauty of her line.

Refined styles, with an unusual colour palette — pale pink rose thrown in fearless and fashionable abandon, with blacks and whites and icy silver blues and stone greys, carefully constructed to blend in seamlessly in consummate harmony, made up the captivating collection. It seemed like she deliberately played truant with the rules of colour and came out victorious. Voluminous, full-length printed skirts, zardozi capes, Patiala pants, Afghani salwars, Banaras palazzos, organza kaftans, mukaish and appliqué embellishments on silk, organza, tulle and mul fabrics lent a dramatic allure to the line that was distinctive. Singhal’s Maaya line was easily one of the best collections of Day One at LFW and made for an enthralling ramp watch.

Singhal’s designs were all strikingly beautiful, so much so that when actress Nimrat Kaur, who was her showstopper, walked down the runway, dressed in an ornate gold and flaming red Marsala silk lehnga and choli, all eyes were on the ensemble, and not on the star. In fact, no one seemed to even notice it was her. Big up for Singhal’s designs here, but not so much for the very talented Kaur.