Zardozi Who?

Newer embroidery techniques are putting the ‘Indian’ in Indian fashion

Written by Namrata Zakaria | Published: August 29, 2013 5:31 am

One of the glorious dichotomies in Indian fashion is to refrain from or contain the gilted zardozi stitch. India’s signature embroidery technique has launched many a bridal trousseau designer on the strength of its thread alone.

It has also brought top-league European couturiers and fashion houses knocking on our doors and turned embroidery houses such as Francois Lesage’s and Adarsh Gill’s into mini empires. But a growing desire to make clothes for the global girl,that are Indian still,is the ultimate challenge.

After much trial and error,in the confused kitsch of “Indo-west” and “fusion wear”,a slow and steady movement towards newer embroideries is gaining ground. At the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai,where many young and talented names in fashion get a little bit of a toehold in a crowded fashion scene,many local embroidery styles were cleverly used.

Among the finest was Amit Aggarwal. Aggarwal used the zardozi technique to create a breastplate of metal pieces,plastic and beads in modern shapes. The armour-style was teamed with fluted and draped gowns,pre-stitched saris to make for a futuristic ensemble. Aggarwal used a traditional method of stitching in avant-garde style,something that’s earned him his laurels. Even a commercial cocktail sari was taken so far away from its image to make a case for individualism. His gowns were moulded with metal strips,and were a lesson in construction.

On the other hand,Ranna Gill teased with French knots in the most playful manner. Her resort line was inspired by the beaches of Mauritius and the designer used exotic prints on aqua and coral shades of the beach. Her maxis,caftans and itsy shorts were embellished with Mauritian styles,namely the seemingly easy but utterly charming French knot.

Anushka Khanna,only three seasons old,had some fabulous handwork in her very urban aesthetic. She’s clearly read the same textbooks as Monisha Jaising and Namrata Joshipura and put together a line with the sassy city girl in mind,with off-shoulder sweater-dresses,racer-back gilets,cropped tops and pencil skirts. Inspired by photographer Hashim Badami’s images,Khanna’s geometric prints and intricate beadwork showed a highly sophisticated aesthetic. In Europe,this collection would go straight to the couture shows for the handwork alone.

I also adored Nupur Kanoi’s Kutch-inspired collection. Kanoi used the Kutchi bharati motif in self colours on dresses and shirts making her line international and Indian at once.

Nishka Lulla’s tailoring was gently touched by the simple and alluring running stitch. One beautiful jacket had a few clouds on the front of the shoulder and birds at the back of it.

Indian designers have learned that the country cannot and should not discard its domestic embroidery styles. Handwork,also easy access to labour hands,is India’s biggest strength in the global fashion game. If used inventively and with a quieter aesthetic,even the zardozi can be given a much needed spin on its own head.

namratanow@gmail.com

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