charmed by desi
More and more designers are experimenting with traditional Indian textiles designing contemporary wear and in the process gaining new customers
A look at the word ‘glamorous’ in the Thesaurus will throw up words
like elegant, good looking, prestigious, sophisticated, alluring, enchanting, stunning and many other equally appreciative words. Even all of them put together is likely to fall short express the beauty and grandeur of Indian textiles! And this is not a statement by one but by every other young fashion designer who of late seems to have found a fortune in our traditional age-old textiles.
“Every Indian textile has its individual identity and unique beauty. As they are all made of natural fibres their beauty and comfort level is very high,’’ explains internationally acclaimed Delhi-based fashion designer Aneeth Arora, the owner of brand Pero, a favourite among celebrities like Kate Hudson, Mira Nair, Arundhati Roy and others. Pero’s USP is being natural, Indian fabric and Indian designs.
Every region of our vast country has its own distinctive weave. Like Madhya Pradesh has Chanderi and Maheshwari, Maharashtara its Paithani, Rajasthan has Bandhani and Kota dhoria, Gujarat is enriched by Ikat, Patola, Mushru and the world famous mirror work, West Bengal has Baluchari and Jamdani, Uttar Pradesh has Benarasi and Kashmir its Jamawar. While the South Indian states vouch by their Kanjivarams, Pochampallis, Irakals and Ikats.
Ahmedabad-based designer Purvi Doshi who became a rage with her maiden show for her Indian ethnic wear in natural fibre has been reinventing the traditional craft, especially of Gujarat, presenting it in contemporary style says, “Indian textiles rarely need any embellishments. The textures of the fabric, the woven motifs are themselves so striking that they don’t need any enhancements.”
Thanks to the young designers Indian textiles hitherto limited to traditional garments like sari, ghagras or dhoti have now got a makeover. Like, designer Vishali Shadangule has showcased traditional textiles of Paithani and Chanderi, famous for sari format, in almost all Western attire. Others have followed suit doing modern-day wear in Benarasi brocade, Jamdani, Ikat, Patola and others.
Today not only designer boutiques but also well-known brands like Fab India, Cotton Cottage, Gurjari, Priyadarshani and several other stores across India house tops, tunics, kurtis, salwar-kameezes, short and long skirts, pants, both narrow bottoms and palazzos, stoles, scarves and even accessories like bags designed with Indian textiles in natural fabrics.
Mumbai-based designer Payal Singhal who has showcased in several major exhibition including the recently concluded Wills Lifestyle and retail through outlets in Delhi, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Dubai and New York says, “I think designers have got weary of using synthetic fabrics and enhancing them with lot of embellishments like crystals, zari, beads etc to beautify them. The diversity of textures available in Indian textiles is so vast that even a simply cut attire looks fabulous!’’
Interestingly, as these textiles are made in handlooms and thus hand-woven they have revived the dying traditional crafts and helped provide livelihoods to those affected by the invasion of textiles from abroad and onslaught of synthetic fibres. Kerala-based young designer Shreejith Jeevan of label Rouka whose designs won him accolades at his debut show at 2013 Lakme Fashion Week, says, “It’s important to take responsibility for one’s own cultural heritage. Look at what has happened in Europe. They don’t have any crafts left. It’s all died down. And I think as designers we have a huge role to play in it. And with abundant beauty available naturally and at home, why look out elsewhere?’’
Another advantage of these designers joining hands to revive the Indian textiles and adapting it to modern style apparels is also the fact that Indian textiles over the years have found global acceptance. Mumbai-based designer couple Kapil and Mmonika, owner of the eponymous label, which has found favour in the international market for its couture, bridal and luxury prêt wear, say, “International markets are welcoming our textiles. They are in huge demand as people love to wear Indian textiles for their exotic looks and a high level of craftsmanship.’’
Famed for experimenting with linen by combining cotton and silk in the weave Mumbai based designer Anavila Misra has the last word: “Anything handmade has a thought behind it and so lasts longer. The same is the case with Indian textiles. Hundreds of years and still they haven’t lost their appeal.’’