This year Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2012 in Mumbai (August 3-7) featured over 85 designers who hoped to gain media exposure with their respective collections. The bi-annual fashion event, run by the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), has a 13 year history of turning budding designers into household names, however the Grande Finale presenter is usually an honor reserved for established designers such as Tarun Tahiliani and Suneet Varma. So choosing lesser-known artists like free-spirited Kaloll Datta and husband-and-wife duo Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja as their Grand Finale presenters immediately injected an element of vitality and surprise. Both designers were asked to interpret Lakme Cosmetics’s Absolute Monochrome makeup line which offers an extensive color palette for face, lips, eyes, and nails in order to seamlessly transition a modern woman’s look from day to night. The point is to enhance one area of the face (similar to the color blocking technique in fashion). Make up artist, Clint Fernandes, a favourite among Bollywood actresses like Kareena Kapoor (who also walked in these final shows much to the delight of the designers and the audience) put this “high-performing long lasting make up” to the test. Kallol Datta, credited as the sole force behind the new wave of ethno-grunge dressing, featured monochromatic white and black looks along with a shockingly smoky, dream-like blue. The utterly relaxed and roomy day-look collection surpassed simple elegance by its use of prints, unconventional placement of metallics, expert ruching, and unexpected cuts in fabric, which exposed a tantalizing sliver of arm. Models were sent out “bling-free” as Datta has admonished in the past that art cannot be appreciated in a “glitzy setting.” Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja also gravitated toward a black and white monochromatic look but made sure their unique design aesthetic—which plays with texture and fabrics—came across strongly in their evening wear pieces. The regal collection mixed traditional elegance with a modern, streamlined silhouette studded with ornate prints inspired by “very diverse elements like paper cutting, handcrafting, origami, stitching, basket weaving,” explains Pankaj Ahuja. The celebration of female beauty and empowerment came across in the pink lip, statement smoky eyes, and slicked back hair, but also through the pieces themselves. In their dazzling collection, they reinvented the poncho and the cape into a more angular and futuristic creation. Beautiful fringe and zipper detailing along with leather, silk, and wool added texture to the garments. Bursts of fuchsia, watermelon, indigo, turquoise, red, and orange prevented the collection from being too subdued. And what initially appeared to be black gloves and tights, turned out to be sleek black jumpsuits. Worn on every model, it kept the focus on the clothes and also added an air of mystery and drama to the dark eyed warrior women walking down the runway. "It is a new thing for Lakmé, the finale had amazing energy because of new designers. I think everyone enjoyed the change," says a beaming Pankaj Ahuja.