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Escaping this summer with feminine digital prints and flirty hand-embroidery

Noticing closely I realized  how Sneha Arora a 33 yrs old Kolkata based designer was treading carefully on the middle path chosen between modernism and post-modernism. She derived pleasure from technological positivity and traditional expertise. Her fetish for both hand and powerloom textiles were cleverly juxtaposed with digital printing and hand-embroidery to avoid being too predictive. 

So we connected, as I wanted to know more about her clothing line and other things that mattered-

Her childhood memories: Was a studious kid. Had planned to sit for medical entrance, instead randomly took an entrance exam for NIFT and got through their Fashion Design program, Kolkata.

Her creative influences/memories: Through childhood she excitedly made cards on special occasions for both friends and family. Her elder sister is an interior designer.

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“Visual imagery is what I carried forward from Madura where I had designed tee shirts. Bougainvillea and Rhododendron are my favourite flowers. And the use of khadi is for its textured feel further aggrandized with thread and French Knot embroidery.”

– Sneha Arora

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Wearing the mundane as quirky miniatures

The mountains are calling and I must go… for their flora and fauna, clear skies and the relaxed light air sans any pollution – my sanity depends on it! It struck me when I came across LAÏTEworks (spelt as light-works) by Saurabh Banka. Couldn’t stop admiring his quirky embroidered miniatures of the mundane strewn on stoles, shirts and pouches projecting a nonchalant playful attitude. 

His

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Bankas’s design background: I graduated from NIFT, New Delhi in 2007. And started working with Rajesh Pratap Singh. In 2008, I moved to Paris and studied Masters in Fashion Design from IFM (Institut Français de la Mode). Following that, I took up a job as an Embroidery Designer for a French label Rue du Mail by Martine Sitbon. And in 2016, I moved to India to start my own brand LAÏTEworks.

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I fancy age-old Ayurvedic Skincare concoctions in a bottle!

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Today I’m sharing two stories which are sides of the same coin – one of Abida Halstenberg from Berkeley Square, London who is the founder of Samaya which has creams, cleansers, oils and supplements for the skin and hair.

She grew up in Hyderabad, south of India, but her folks belonged to the North, in Uttar Pradesh. She remembers her maternal grandmother from Oudh only prescribing natural or Ayurvedic remedies for any ailment or beauty treatment. From the age of six or seven she found herself inclined towards mixing face packs with Ayurvedic ingredients. After moving abroad life got busier so she looked for off-the-shelf products that were not just natural or Ayurvedic but also easy and pleasant to use. Uninterested with those in the market, she began building her own line based on the knowledge imparted by her grandmother and extended family (whom she had grown up with), while studying the rest.

Continue reading “I fancy age-old Ayurvedic Skincare concoctions in a bottle!”

Regenerated tweed, both light and warm

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There are reasons for me to pick up the threads with this post – main ones being recycled fibres and the fashion industry being the second largest polluter in the world. It makes me happy to speak about PASHMA – an Indian label through its cashmere range is taking sustainability to another level. I had the opportunity to meet up with its CEO – Mr. Ravindra Kumar at their Gurugram unit where he spoke about their decision of undoing previous collections’ and spinning the Cashmere. “We decided to ‘Regenerate’ our fabric leftovers collected over one decades or more. It has a coarser count and we weave these yarns into HerringboneTwill, Diamond Weave etc., which sell well. Magically, this specific yarn when knitted with different knit structures, needle craft and printed with contemporary prints look like a part of the knit itself ” he explained.

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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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