While inspiration can come from anywhere, its interpretation never has to be literal. For Ter et Bantine’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection, designer Kostas Murkudis drew from the life of Sarla Thakral, India's first female aviator. The line was (thankfully) devoid of any costume-like flight suits or saris that could cause more offense than conversation, but it played to its inspiration beautifully. Wrap dresses in modern colors and prints offered a subtle nod to Thakral’s Indian roots, while vinyl and leather jackets play off the ides of aviation with large pockets, wide lapels and belted closures.
Murkudis first collection for Ter et Bantine was met with limited success, reviews for the most part bordered somewhere on passive acceptance rather than acclaim or criticism, but a first collection with a new house should always be taken with a grain a salt. Even the most experienced of designers can, at times, need a beat to find their footing. But perhaps more was expected of Murkudis who not only has his own line, but previously worked for Helmut Lang and Balenciaga.
What we did see was an attempt to make mention of inspiration without replicating it, something he accomplished with great success. Gowns fell over the shoulders or were wrapped around the waist, not both, and used modern, lighter colorways than a traditional sari. Flight jumpsuits were clearly channeled, but looked far from anything one would see on a tarmac. Using unexpected fabrics allowed a pair of pants or jacket that might seem inappropriate on a fashion model, look fresh and modern on the runway.
The collection also felt heavily influenced by the 1930’s. As Thakral earned her pilot license in 1936, Murkudis seemed to tap into the Hollywood glamour of the age and created dresses with whittled waists, sashes and dramatic necklines. Outerwear mimicked designs from the Golden Age of Flight and were reimagined (quite successfully) for a fashion-minded 21st century.