She remembers sketching gowns from class 7th onwards after secretly gaping at the international fashion magazines for hours on end. Had fancied a German – Karl Largarfeld ever since, for successfully creating three distinct labels simultaneously – French fashion house Chanel, an Italian one Fendi, along with his own fashion label.
Lofty dreams manifested into an eponymous label – Suparna Som, launched just a few months ago. For it the 25 yr. old moonlights between a fulltime job in a leather export house in Okhla, New Delhi, and executes everything from A-Z for her own clothing line. Full of grit, she credits her prior experience in deftly handling established clothing names like Akaaro, Bodice and DRVV during fashion weeks, while studying Leather Design, from NIFT – Kolkata.
The days in design school saw a fondness for basic silhouettes in uniquely crafted regional textiles, grow, as it was hot and humid round the year. “So I decided on using hand spun yarn and hand-woven fabric to practice sustainability for an eco-friendly product” stated the Bengali mēẏē or lass. Like a Gandhian, she spoke about her raw linen hand spun on a charkha in Fulia (known for Tangail Jamdani) and Khadi Cotton in Murshidabad. I couldn’t stop feeling the cloth which is natural, all weather friendly and allows the skin to breathe; ideal to langour in for us in tropical and sub-tropical India.
Over her ethical fuss-free versatile apparels she suggested an easy drape of a linen or khadi cotton saree, whenever desired. I liked the sound of it for my capsule wardrobe, since wearing separates differently every time makes the outfit new. Their auspicious Bengali motifs of jasmine(symbolizing attachment, sensuality, modesty, grace and elegance) and hibiscus(representing Kali’s tongue- a symbol of fierceness within) mirrored a floating imagery on soft colours like white, cream, ash rose and grey. Looked like it was deliberately done to draw attention to the weaver’s exquisite craftsmanship of a contrast coloured motif further highlighted with a tinge of brightness. Herein, the sheer base is standard wefts, while for a supplementary one thicker threads are manually interlaced with fine bamboo sticks using individual spools to create a pattern without cutting the thread. This describes an ethereal weave – Jamdani. A traditional craft of Bengal with a Persian origin is known to be one of the most time and labour intensive forms of handloom weaving.
High on a creative spell, she solemnly justified this first collection by telling me “I have incorporated luxuries like handcrafted detailing on each garment. Actually covering bodies aesthetically is an art, which I would like to reflect on through the region’s cultural, social or climatic conditions.” Her mother wears khadi cotton often, so Suparna proposed we follow her care instructions for slow fashion to last long and look better with time. First, gently handwash with a clear shampoo, separately. Then dry on a line in the shade and only soft iron as the threads of the motif can be pulled or dulled. But if there is an attached lining drycleaning is recommended as both the shell and the lining fabric are equally delicate.
This parent’s classic look in mere pastels serendipitously became her biggest influence. One notices her affinity for vintage while viewing the Instagram account. It clearly denotes a yearning for a carefree and happier life of the yesteryears. But what this young designer truly longs for is to emulate her late grandmother’s spirit, who by all family members is fondly remembered as an epitome of endearment. That’s a quality which calls for a greater commitment towards the weavers – keeping them engaged all year round instead of just a season, and connecting with as many weaving clusters for their revival with dignity.
Well! A quote by Indian writer, artist, poet, Rabindranath Tagore – “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold service was joy,” put her thoughts into perspective. It dawned on me that happiness is in a mission instead of a passion.