A PHULKARI dupatta or odhni is among the most prized possessions in a Punjabi brides trousseau. Phulkari literally means art of flower (phul comes from the word flower and kari is the technique of hand embroidery). While,in the older days,the ladies of the house would painstakingly embroider entire odhnis,today,the phulkari is a dying art. On Day Three of the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week,Bollywoods favourite designer Manish Malhotra pulled the traditional embroidery out of its heirloom status and put it on the high fashion ramp.
Over the last few years,the designer has attempted to popularise craftsmanship from various parts of the country. After promoting Kashmiri thread and zari work in the last two years,he recently showcased a chikankari collection from Mijwan,Uttar Pradesh,at shows in London and Dubai. With this phulkari collection called Threads of Emotion,he may be aiming for a trilogy of sorts.
Traditionally,phulkari encompasses floral motifs and geometric designs among others and each design has a different name and connotation. Malhotra has managed to include many of the predominant styles,but the bagh (where its hard to spot an inch of the base material) seems to be his favourite. I was lucky to have a friend pass on his entire collection of phulkari to me and I was inspired to work with this intense form of ancestral art, he says.
He has used phulkari on fitted long jackets,angrakhas,floor-length anarkalis and saris for women,with the embroidery either present all over or on borders and hems. The fabrics are Malhotras favourites such as georgette,raw silk and tulle. The autumn-winter theme has been addressed with colours such as mustard yellow,navy blue,deep rust,olive and,of course,the old phulkari colour,red. The makeover of phulkari continues with Malhotra incorporating the embroidery in menswear as well. Originally,phulkari rarely makes an appearance in mens wardrobes,but the designer has used it on bandhgalas and kurtas.
A Manish Malhotra show isnt complete without a star or two. This time,he had actors Jacqueline Fernandez,Esha Gupta and Siddharth Malhotra on the ramp and singer Hard Kaur and film veteran Shabana Azmi applauding from the front row.