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Resplendent Benarasi weaves from history and beyond

Jhini jhini bini chadariya.

kah ke tana, kah ke bharni, kaun taar se bini chadariya

ingla pingla taana bharni, sushumna tar se bini chadariya.

ashta kamal dal charkha doley, panch tatva, gun tini chadariya

saiin ko siyat mas dus lagey, thonk-thonk ke bini chadariya.

so chaadar sur nar muni odhi, odhi ke maili kini chadariya

das Kabir jatan kari odhi, jyon ki tyon dhar deeni chadariya.

The Lord Supreme has woven a very fine and delicate tapestry, free of impurities of any kind!

What refined and subtle yarn, what complex interlacing,

He has used to weave it!

Using veins and breath he threads twenty four hours on end,

His spinning wheel turns,

Weaving the tapestry from all five essential elements.

Ten months it takes the Lord to weave his tapestry,

Using the greatest of craftsmanship, care and skill.

That exquisite tapestry is worn by the celestials, by Saints, and by human beings alike.

But they all invariably have defiled it !

Your humble devotee Kabir has worn it scrupulously and meticulously,

And is returning it to you, O’Lord, unblemished and pure !

(cited Blind to Bounds)

Kaaynat - Gold the art of Zari by Swati and Sunaina

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Warangal began with prayer rugs

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Getting festive ready I chanced upon Poludas Nagendra Satish’s Sutra Durrie. This led me to understand how earlier one could differentiate through designs of one village or weaver from the other. The cottage industry of durrie weaving in Warangal, Telengana can be recognized with its geometrical and angular designs in weft interlocking technique (both sides look the same). Here a large population consisted of skilled weavers and dyers. But the unofficial figures stated otherwise, that almost 50% of Padmasali community have left their ancestral vocation as the craft is too laborious, and provides little sustenance or dignity.

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The UnBenaras weaver

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My fascination grew when I read online about Hemang Agrawal’s textile journey after seeing his dazzling collection at Vayu, an upmarket concept store. Particularly how as a young lad from Baneras after studying at NIFT, Mumbai, thought it best to give up his scholarship for Masters in Fashion at Nottingham Trent University to go back home and make something of his textile roots(father had a saree business). Apparently this life altering decision was taken after listening to Padma Shri Rahul Jain‘s talk on Safavid, Persian and Mughal drawloom patterned textiles; wherein he explained in depth the sophistication and innovation of Benarasi textiles of the past several centuries. Later this foremost textile historian and revivalist of India became Hemangs guide and guru.

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Kabir inspires contemporary fashion

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Contemporary apparel is known to be accessible in price and relevant to present day fashion. It is modern compared to the higher end luxury market and a tad younger, more often than not.

For a fashion student contemporary begins from the loom which makes a more powerful statement than the machine, when woven with hand. Designer Padmaja Krishnan like Kabir, equates it to meditation; which as per the weaver’s poetry is known to be an expression of an ingenious human mind. Being a slow fashion addict, her eponymous label too hopes to restore the magic in handloom, through ‘The Loom Mind’ collection, this year.

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Whimsical accesories

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One of my Christmas finds is this Contemporary Sculptural Jewelry for an understated sparkle at the beach parties this season.

Manifest Design established in the fall of 2013, is a dream project of siblings Manreet & Samraat Deol, who are committed to revitalizing the traditional metalsmithing traditions of India. Manreet, the Creative Director of Manifest Design thought of ‘Everyday Wearable Art’ which stems from her eccentric visual vocabulary that might be familiar but truly unexpected, like gnarled corals, sensuous vines, bold rock sculptures, urban art etc. For it a self confessed sculptor took advantage of a metal-smith to nail a layer of intrigue and warmth.

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Ethics+Aesthetics=Sustainable fashion

Choti Bag and Medium Clutch

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Choti Bag and Chindi Clutch

 

Joli was initially a collaborative effort of two close friends who were also designers – Jonas and Lili. It began from the apartment they shared in New Delhi. After drawing sketches and sourcing fabric for months, the duo decided to give up their full time jobs to set it up in 2010.

An urban line of unisex utilitarian accessories celebrated the soul of modern India. For over 3 yrs. their lines ranged from printed tote bags made of canvas, to weekend bags of fine leather, market bags of lungi fabrics, men’s shirts, colorful key rings, and more….all under the guiding ethos of their logo “Proudly made in India”.

In 2013, Jonas left to further his career while Lili took complete charge of Joli. (The name is a combination of both Jonas and Lili, which also means ‘pretty’ in french)  Since then, the accessory label has seen a sea-change. With a changed identity into something feminine, the label now also focuses on incorporating Indian crafts and recyclable materials.

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Ahimsa leather handbags

Certified Ahimsa leather can be a debatable topic in India, since our religious sentiments do not allow slaughtering of animals. And serendipitously I drew a brand which is vocal about it – Grain with its collection of unisex functional handbags.

So connected with Avinash Bhalerao, its Mumbai-based designer and illustrator, to whet my curiosity about his venture.

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Swati Kalsi’s avant-garde Sujani

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Had met Swati Kalsi, an immensely talented fashion and textile designer at the Nayaab exhibition late last year. And my first question to her was…. what’s the difference between Sujani and Kantha? Sujani, she explained is a mix of running, chain and filler or Bharua stitches while Kantha is predominantly running. Common to both Bihar and Bengal (neighbouring states of india), these traditional crafts are aesthetically layered and sewn together out of old, worn pieces of cloth.

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Handmade good design

Bee Kite at the LIt Fest

Talking about the right people matters to me and I’m sure it does for AnanTaya too; a concept store which during the Jaipur Literature Festival wants to pollinate our minds with Handmade Good Design.

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