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‘We strongly believe in cultural sustainability’: Designers Monica and Karishma on their latest bridal collection

"Each of us - from designers to consumers - carries a responsibility to be our country's cultural ambassadors."

jade by monica and karishmaA glimpse of BaniThani, a bridal collection from Jade by Monica and Karishma (Source: PR Handout)

Jade by Monica and Karishma’s new collection has a refreshing take on bridalwear. Inspired by Rajasthani miniature art, the collection called ‘BaniThani’ upholds tradition through the celebration of women’s inner strength and individuality.

The designer duo showcased the collection at the recently-held Lakme Fashion Week. Talking more about their inspiration, Monica Shah, creative director and co-founder of the label, shared what went into making the clothes, cultural sustainability and more. Excerpts:

Lakme Fashion Week hosted a phygital event this time. How different was it?

While I would love for people to experience our collections firsthand in person on the runway, this new phygital format not only helps us push the boundaries of innovatively presenting our work, but also helps us reach a wider network. The pandemic has reinforced the role digital media plays in our lives and business. It only makes sense that fashion weeks – which are such an important part of every designer’s work – include the digital world in unique forms too.

Tell us about your collection BaniThani.

We wanted to create a collection inspired by the strong sense of individuality and the beauty of authenticity – of acknowledging your inner fire and celebrating what makes each of us so unique yet so connected. For the longest time we have been drawn to the way women have been represented in Rajasthani miniature paintings in the 18th century. These women were portrayed to be so at ease with themselves, embracing all aspects of themselves without a care for convention. We wanted a collection that inspired this feeling of liberation, of shedding your inhibitions and being yourself.

How are you celebrating tradition through the collection?

The collection is largely inspired by Rajasthani art forms, techniques and practices. We have collaborated with award-winning Leheriya artist Mohammad Saquib to create select couture pieces using this technique. But leheriya is more than just a technique. It’s a connection that the people of Rajasthan share with their land. The technique uses materials that are naturally available in the landscape – such as madder root, turmeric, indigo, onion peels and so on. In addition, we have also collaborated with miniature artist Gopal Prasad Sharma to create unique accessories inspired by miniature paintings.

In what ways can fashion in India gain better recognition internationally?

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I think retaining our traditional roots, while adopting a global perspective is one way. In most of our creations, we use traditional techniques but our colour palettes and silhouettes are rather global and contemporary. I think each of us – from designers to consumers – carries a responsibility to be our country’s cultural ambassadors. No matter where we go, it’s up to us to celebrate our heritage and artisanal legacy. After all, this is what makes us unique.

Many designers are now focusing on sustainability. What is your take?

We strongly believe in cultural sustainability – our collections revolve around celebrating traditional crafts and techniques, and helping sustain the communities that have been practising since generations. We endeavour to innovate with traditional techniques such that they can be used in myriad ways even in modern times.

How has the pandemic changed our perspective on fashion?

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The pandemic has certainly reinforced a special enthusiasm for celebration and for sitting by yourself, basking in every little pleasure that comes from dressing yourself up. At the same time, there’s a greater focus on aspects like functionality, ease of wear and movement, and mindfulness of our roots and traditional crafts.

Several celebs have worn your creations. What has the experience been?

It’s always wonderful and a fun experience! Dressing up celebs in our creations is a beautiful opportunity to put forth our message of choosing Indian handcrafted ensembles to the world at large. And we always appreciate that!

Whom have you had the most fun working with?

Styling Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra and Jacqueline Fernandes has been a lovely experience!

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First published on: 31-10-2021 at 12:30:05 pm
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