Gar firdaus baz roo-e zameen ast, hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast; Anju Modi recited these words by Amir Khusro in her soft voice over a telephonic conversation. There was a certain sense of satisfaction as she spoke about the utopian journey she set off on before she started designing for her latest collection, Seeking Paradise, to be shown at the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) on March 15.
“I always start with wiping the slate clean. After Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, I was filled with a lot of colours in my head,” says Modi, who travelled to Kathmandu and found the inspiration for her works, as she flew over the picturesque region. “From the aircraft, I could see blue skies, the clouds and the mighty Himalayas in the background. It was so beautiful and I could think of heaven as the only analogy for what my eyes had witnessed,” says the designer.
Modi has been basking in the success of her first Bollywood project, for which she bagged a Screen Award in the costume design category. Her latest collection, however, is in complete contrast to this explosion of colours. Seeking Paradise is accentuated with refreshing tones such as coral, ivory, blush and powder blue. “Mumbai is a lot more vibrant as a city. Though my usual palette is made up of pale colours, I had to think differently,” says Modi.
But why did it take her so long to show at LFW, which is in its 15th year now? “I have a laid-back attitude. I prefer to stay away from the limelight. I am more happy working with my craftsmen and creating clothes,” says the designer. Modi attributes her appearance at the fashion week to the success of Ram-Leela. “People started asking me to participate in the fashion week. Though I had done shows in cities such as Los Angeles and Miami, Mumbai had never happened until now,” she says.
At the LFW press conference last month, Modi presented her model in an elegant blush-coloured floor-length anarkali with floral and jaal-window motifs on the bodice, which symbolises the doorway to paradise for the designer. Intricately carved arches and flowers of Eden are seen throughout the rest of the collection. Her quest through this wonderland is interwoven with delicate details in zardozi and gold foil printing. She has used summery and easy-to-wear fabrics such as organic khadi and chiffon — both of which she uses extensively in her works. Seeking Paradise also features dresses and straight kurtas that can be paired with flared pants.
The designer is in no hurry to sign her next film. While she sounds optimistic about projects coming her way, she confesses that she is enjoying the break. With her expertise in the revival of dying crafts and Indian textile, Modi aims to bag more films that involve research-oriented work.