WHEN the advisory board for Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) met in January this year to draw up the blueprint for the Summer-Resort 2013 edition of the five-day event,one of the key properties discussed was the Indian Textile Day,that was introduced exactly a year ago. For Saket Dhankar,Head-Fashion,IMG-Reliance (that organises the event with Lakme),the main intention behind this property was to bring the weavers work under the spotlight. The idea was to pick from a pool of talent and give it access to a mainstream audience, he reveals.
This year,there was a new addition in the form of a separate Indian Textile show. The initiative saw textile designer Mayank Mansingh Kaul curate the works of three designers Gaurav Jai Gupta of Akaaro,Swati Kalsi and Ashdeen Lilaowala. Each of them has a strong background in textiles with Gupta,in particular,being known for his studio weaving techniques. All three use Indian textiles as a central motif and can creatively express themselves through traditional textiles, says Kaul. So while Kalsi and Lilaowala featured handwoven embroidery Sujani embroidery from Bihar and Parsi Gara embroidery,respectively in Western silhouettes,Guptas line lay emphasis on beautifully structured garments made using minimal cutting so as to work towards zero cloth wastage.
Kalsi points out that their show hinted at the rising awareness of Indian textiles used in a contemporary mould. India is known to be a hub of textiles and yet,its only now that we have begun to celebrate our textile culture, says the designer,whose LFW line of asymmetrical dresses,boleros,coats and skirt-and-blouse ensembles won the LFW Heritage Award (accompanied by a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh).
For Gupta,this show at LFW was a way of creating awareness about the concept of restoration as well as the preservation of the hand-weaving technique. Mass production in the garment industry,the fast changing trends and the boom of the power loom sector have to be balanced out by reviving,sustaining and valuing the traditional knowledge of hand-crafting. My collection of dresses,tunics,shirts,trousers and jackets,titled Re-,was made using handwoven fabrics such as chanderi,banarasi and tope silk, says Gupta.
As someone who has been working on the preservation and promotion of Parsi Gara embroidery and researching a book on the Zoroastrian craft of Kusti weaving Lilaowalas LFW range had cocktail dresses,gowns and saris with motifs such as butterflies,birds and flowers revival is also a term that he is familiar with. When I got into design,I realised that Gara embroidery needed a new context in order to make it relevant to everyone,not just Parsis, says Lilaowala,who has dressed pop stars Beyonce Knowles and Mariah Carey in his hand-embroidered creations.
Gupta,however,has a word of caution. Promoting textiles will need constant attention because even though they are connected,textile design and fashion design are two different disciplines. Its like photography and movies,the latter is more glamorous than the former and hence,draws in more people, he says.