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An increasing number of fashion labels and brands are collaborating with Indian graphic designers and illustrators to co-create visually stunning collections with an artsy appeal. Jagmeeta Thind Joy and Somya Lakhani take a look at three recent tie-ups
Sameer Kulavoor & Kalki Koechlin for Kultureshop
I really wasn’t sure what to expect at first but after a while, it was like I had met an old friend,” says leading illustrator and graphic artist Sameer Kulavoor, best known for creating a limited edition line of t-shirts for international label Paul Smith. Kulavoor was recently paired up with actor Kalki Koechlin to co-create an art print and t-shirt for Kulture Shop’s Katalyst collection to mark the launch of their online store last month.
The result is quirky to say the least. Taking a spin on Bollywood of the ‘80s, their illustration Santre features oranges, kitschy dance moves and a spoof on a popular Rajesh Khanna dialogue from the film Anand presented as Zindagi aur maut ke khel mein hum sab santre hai. Interestingly, Kulavoor is a film buff and that’s a connect he shared with Kalki. “We chatted about films and then corresponded through e-mails to arrive on something that was reflective of our times and fun as well. It was nice to come across a Bollywood celebrity who was so grounded,” says Kulavoor. Apart from him, three other graphic artists from Kulture Shop were paired up with Pentagram’s Randolph Correia, designer and photographer Shahid Datawala and spacecraft designer Dr Susmita Mohanty for the collection. “While we champion graphic art, we also believe in collaboration, as it has the possibility of bringing two or more worlds together,” says Arjun Charanjiva, Founder and CEO of Kulture Shop on the project.
Smruthii Gargi Eswar for LABEL
When Amrish Kumar purchased two pieces from graphic designer Smruthii Gargi Eswar’s collection “Sister Misfortune”, little did she know that this one chance meeting would change the course of her career. Impressed by the play of colours and the strong storyline that the collection depicted, Amrish asked Bangalore-based Eswar if she wanted to collaborate on a fashion line for veteran designer Ritu Kumar’s brand called LABEL. Earlier this month, art and fashion came together at the launch of LABEL’S flagship store in Delhi with a range of shirts with four of Eswar’s graphic prints from her collection “Seasoned” on them. “This range continues the conversation between gender and religion and is a sequel of sorts to “Sister Misfortune”, in which I drew goddesses. I had complete freedom to do whatever I like and was given no brief by Amrish or Ritu Kumar,” says Eswar, who briefly studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara. Apart from the clothes, Eswar’s work is also on display at the LABEL store in Khan Market, Delhi. “Seasoned” depicts the four seasons — spring, summer, autumn and winter — and has goddesses on it, ones that aspire to be more human. “This collaboration with such a senior and well-known fashion designer makes my work more credible. It has put me in a spotlight of sorts. Also, with this project, people not only see my work, they also get to wear it,” says Eswar, who has showcased her previous work in Mumbai, Bangalore and Kochi.
Amrita Nambiar for Hidesign
Inspired by art on canvas and looking to infuse it into everyday life, Hidesign roped in Chennai-based freelance graphic designer and illustrator Amrita Nambiar for their recent St Tropez collection of limited edition bags. Each bag in white leather has been individually hand-painted by Nambiar, who wanted to showcase the breezy and fashionable vibe of the place as well as her take on the modern Indian woman. The artwork features vibrantly coloured ocean waves which form the backdrop with a woman in a loose flowing scarf, looking on. “I had many conversations with Dilip Kapur of Hidesign before I came up with the sketches. Essentially we wanted to portray the strong qualities of an Indian woman in an artistic way. As an artist it’s always nice to see your work on an unusual canvas such as a bag,” says Nambiar. While her preferred medium has been watercolours, Nambiar, who studied at the Chitrakala Parishath in Bangalore, has also specialised in applied art. Speaking at the launch of this special collection, Dilip Kapur, President, Hidesign remarked, “With the second edition of the hand-painted collection, Hidesign’s belief
in ‘Beauty lies in simplicity’ is very strongly portrayed.”