A pleated skirt was my most precious outfit in the late ’90s while I was in school. In those days pleat skirts and tops were a popular rage. Pleat designs are still in vogue today — they have remained in demand due to their attractive styles, different variants and colour patterns.

Spanish fashion designer, Mariano Fortuny’s pleat works done in the twentieth century still continue to intrigue and inspire modern day designers around the world. While the Japanese designer, Issey Miyake had extensively worked with polyester fabrics to set a trend, which is now being followed by the contemporary designers.  

Jaya Bhatt, co-founder of Indigene, explains that pleats are like the origami of fabric — they are created by making folds on the fabric and holding them with a stitch. It can be of a single or multiple folds and can be of any size. Pleats create a texture on the fabric. There was a time when pleats were created using natural fabric stiffeners. They were widely used in costumes across the cultures of the world— be it English, Egyptian, Greek or Indian.

“In the modern times, pleats have disappeared from the clothing scene and came back in vogue only in the 19th century with Mariano Fortuny’s version of the ancient Greek peplum. He created a dress called Delphos. And Issey Miyake gave us the idea of heat set pleating on polyester fabric, which he invented. It was easy to wear and did not need any ironing. This brought forth the idea of pleats that were easy to maintain,” she adds.

Marking its way into Spring Summer collection, the chic look of knife, box, sunray or accordion patterns in attires has gradually made its pace in everyone’s wardrobe.

Mira Gupta, creative director, Jaypore says, “Pleats are a huge success in Spring/Summer 2016 fashion, drawing inspiration from the Issey Miyake “Pleats Please label” which was launched in 1993. Spring/ Summer 2016 has seen micro pleats, knife, box and accordion pleats at altuzarra, boss, and proenza schouler.  It can be teamed up with an A-line, knee length pleated skirt with a simple t-shirt and flat sandals for a cool uncluttered look. One can also go for a pleated dress with a pair of chunky sandals and minimal make up or a micro-pleated trouser with a calf-length flare and an oversized shirt.”

“In the modern era, pleats disappeared from the clothing scene and came back in vogue only in the 19th century  with Mariano Fortuny’s version of the ancient Greek peplum. He created a dress called Delphos. And Issey Miyake gave us the idea of heat set pleating on polyester fabric, which he invented.”

Ruchi Tripathi, another co-founder of Indigene says, “There can various kinds of pleating on a garment, single pleat, box pleat, knife pleat, inverse box, accordion pleat, to name a few. Pleats can be made interesting by using a combination of fabric prints, weaves and colours. A combination of tonal colours gives a subtle look whereas as using absolute contrast colours create a bold and sharp look.”

In the same line, designer Karan Arora who specializes in the ethnic outfits says, “Pleats can be wisely used in the traditional attires. We are doing beautiful variations of anarkalis based on box and inverted pleats with tonal workmanship for an international look. So far we have been using various pleats like patiala pleat, box pleats and sunrays tastefully in making of bridal and couture. Lehengas based on patiala pleats almost resembles to royal poshak of maharanis in Rajasthan giving it a very characterised look.”

With pleats the interesting bit is, it comes with a volume. It is considered a proper outfit for heavier body size as it gives flare and layering to a garment. There’s no denying in the fact that this design invention is not only meant for women but can also give a refreshing appearance to men.

“Pleats add a texture to flat structures. They can be used to add volume in the desired section of a garment. Unlike gathers, they do not add too much visual volume and hence can be suited to most body types. One can experiment with the size and design of the pleat and make it interesting by using a combination of fabrics, tucks and top stitch details,” says Bhatt.

Designer Arun Saluja says, “Box pleats have been used since ages to make skirts for women. We can use the same box pleats in bottom wear for men to make wide leg pants as well as for women. Knife pleats can be infused on the sleeves to increase the fluidity of the fabric. Inverted box pleats and rolled up pleats have gained popularity in this season, the usage has increased on skirts, palazzo pants and other bottom wear for men.”

However, these pleat oriented garments are not only for cocktails and parties but can be incorporated in formal and informal attires.

“Pleats are versatile in nature — they can be both formal and informal depending on how you incorporate them in your outfit. Their expression changes with the kind of fabrics used, for example, pleats on chiffon material can help bring about a soft, ultra-feminine look whereas pleats on raw silk can help bring forth a more tailored, edgy feel,” says Priyanka Modi from AM:PM. 

So, to get the free-spirited look this summer, opt for pleated outfits to make you look interesting and quirky.

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