Dramatic Lines for Modern Times

STYLE19-PAULMAFFICall it fashion’s categorical imperative: for a special-occasion item to be perfect, it must be chic, well-made, and at a reasonable price. Often young women have to settle for the old “two out of three ain’t bad”—but actually, the results usually are. Women end up with either something cute that falls apart, a piece with sturdy seams that even their grandmother finds dowdy, or the perfect outfit whose price tag they can’t justify to themselves if they are only going to wear it once or twice (and because they already justified the price of that bag this week…).

There is also increased pressure to keep finding new pieces thanks to this social media age of constant chronicling, when everyone has looked through party pictures and realized they’ve trotted out the same outfit one too many times.

Luckily, two designers heard the call, as if millions of voices cried out: “Chic! Well made! Reasonably priced!”

Babi and Sachin Ahluwalia, creators of the label Sachin & Babi, have been able to hit the trifecta over and over again, with their strong focus on evening and special-occasion dresses and separates. In fact, the Ahluwalias have become especially well-known and applauded for their evening separates that can be mixed and matched. “Because the modern girl’s wardrobe is adapting to the necessity of the seperates, we find the clientele is embracing them,” the two agreed.

These two are designers who burst with ideas, with energizing outcomes. When asked about the inspiration behind their latest collection, they replied “classic Latin silhouettes, rich jewel tones, Flamenco flair, and a recent trip to Valencia and Granada.” The result: ruffled tiered flamingo maxiskirts, modern boleros, and their signature handwork which embodies an Old World elegance and charm, balanced by the ease and wearability that the modern girl demands.

During this year’s New York Fashion Week, they presented their Fall 2016 collection of evening wear at 632 on Hudson, a house decorated with an impressive collection of antiques and artifacts. The collection was exhibited in an intimate setting with models positioned on different floors: draped across a couch, perched on an antique bed, or leaning over a balustrade.

The presentation attracted not only the usual American fashion glossies like WWD and Vogue, but French publications like Madame Figaro gave their stamps of approval as well, proving that the brand translates very well across many different continents.

Alongside pieces like the vibrant multi-tiered maxiskirts in a floral print, there were plenty of beautiful gowns, from a voluminous emerald green velvet and taffeta one to a simple black velvet strapless column. The Latin inspiration was abundently clear. Intricate embroidery work and embellishments sprinkled the looks, like those on a black lace applique gown with a plunging neckline and a ruby red cummerbund. The outfits showed expert craftsmanship combined with modern wit. Overall, the collection offered a fresh and youthful approach to eveningwear—at just the right price point.

Every season, the two go through a similar process in creating their collections: “Starting from the embroideries, we move on to the fabrics—fabric is the birth of the design, allowing us to conceptualize the silhouette—then we add elements of things that have inspired us in between the collections, like art, music, or prints.” When asked about their current favorite material, they respond that they’re “obsessing over modern lace at the moment.”

Sachin and Babi Ahluwalia know how to combine the best of modern silhouettes with classic tailoring, and create looks that appeal to any woman looking for style and exquisite fit. And what does the future hold for the brand? “We’re exploring the possibilities of bridal.”

There might be some chic, well made, and affordable wedding dresses on the horizon—keep a look out.