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All for the love of handloomed waste

Don’t know what to term this unfortunate situation as …evolution or extermination? From Sunder Nagri to the neighbouring towns of Delhi, Ashita Singhal of Paiwand – a fresh fashion design graduate combed for weavers late last year and realized that the community was on the brink of extinction. Their derelict units brought tears to her eyes. She sat there listening to the sordid stories of their existence. They were willing to do anything to survive. Rs.80 was the meager income they earned despite weaving a good amount everyday.

Their plight strengthened her resolve to provide dignity of labour to many such weavers who knew no other craft to earn a living. Her up-cycling fabric venture was actually a final year post-graduation project. She won the 2018 the Global James McGuire Business Plan Competition for sustainable fashion waste management. In it, upcycle textile waste from fashion designers is turned into designer fabric. With a grant of 25k US dollars an ambitious business was set up.

The 24 year old budding designer does realize being ethical is difficult for the final product cost goes up but it is the need of the hour. And agrees to rampant green washing being done in the name of sustainability by many in her industry. But speaks of it as a long-​term structural shift with the goal of reducing environmental and resource consumption for the sake of our future generations.

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Romanticising maximalism of Indian design

His mentor, Tony Duqutte was an American design legend who created elegant interiors, high jewelry, costumes and sets for Hollywood and Broadway productions, European royalty and the well-heeled. Following suit, Hutton Wilkinson – the grandson of the late Bolivian president Don José Luis Tejada-Sorzano unarguably stepped into the goliath’s shoes.

As a child with a quirky sense of humour his style heroes were Tony Duquette, Cecil Beaton, Oliver Messel, The Baron de Rede, Arturo Lopez Wilshaw, Emelio Terry and Carlos de Beistegui . In 1995, when Wilkinson and his compatriot, Tony Duqutte came up with their first jewelry line for Bergdorf Goodman, Vogue wrote – “After a maximum of minimalism, all of fashion is turning towards Tony Duquette for inspiration,” (cited in Vogue Arabia)

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On reading several interviews given by Wilkinson the design enthusiast in me excitedly connected through email with the owner and creative director of Tony Duquette only to discover his “love for maximalism in Indian design”.

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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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Not just for women

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Tempering is a uniquely Indian cooking technique. I wanted to create jewellery based on the magical act of pouring hot spiced oil into cooked food.-Baanley collection

Had stumbled upon Dvibhumi‘s instagram account a while ago, but one fine day I read on it a cryptic message ‘Utensils of early Indian settlers in Singapore-Ruchi launches this month’ which piqued my interest. To quench my curiosity I wrote and requested Vyshnavi N Doss, its founder and designer, for an e-catalog of her latest creations. The revert read “I design in Singapore and work with craftsmen in India and Indonesia to create modern jewellery with a strong Asian narrative. My signature aesthetic is clean lines and surfaces in combination with textures and motifs. You will notice how the designs go beyond statements and can easily spark a conversation. One should expect more matte finishes and monochrome than bling on geometrical forms with the spotlight on detail.”

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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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Bohemian Christmas

Tucked away in the bylane of Shahpur Jat, New Delhi, is a quaint store on the first floor, Olivia Dar. An eponymous contemporary bohemian luxury label was born in 2011. This labour of love originated from the lady’s travels and her desire to share the traditional artisanal crafts of India and Central Asia. Earlier one knew of her women’s accessories but today its her chic bomber jackets and upcycled gypsy vintage dresses which are creating ripples in the West.

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Old becomes In, with jewellery

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Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction or fantasy wherein technology and aesthetics are inspired by 19th-century – industrial steam-powered machinery; as those were the romantic times when art and craft movement, discoveries and new technology, were all vying for attention at the same time, in Europe. And so in the mid-20th century, the Steampunk movement  began modding the two through a wide variety of artistic styles.

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Adornment, what a science!

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Phew!!! It sure does take a lot of perseverance to tap the right labels for the blog…anyways cutting a long  story short, last fortnight I managed to meet the young Tuhina Goyal of HOUSE OF TUHINA fame, at her neat and chic manufacturing unit in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

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Mastering local weaves and styles

For Chinar Farooqui – a textile and clothing designer working from her studio in Jaipur, Rajasthan – India, style is primarily a matter of instinct. Hearing that statement I quickly reflected on my wardrobe, and realized how comfortable I was getting in my skin, with time!

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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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