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The pandemic has brought a newfound love for Indian crafts and techniques: Designer Monica Shah

As JADE announces its two new flagship store openings in New Delhi and Los Angeles, along with the launch of its latest collection, A Summer Memoir, we interact over email and find out more about the brand

Written by Shambhavi Dutta | New Delhi |
April 1, 2021 5:30:18 pm
The designers have completed 12 years in the industry. (Photo: PR handout/ Designed by Gargi Singh)

Couturiers Monica Shah and Karishma Swali — of the label JADE — do not need an introduction, for they have spent almost a decade in the industry, having dressed the likes of Alia Bhatt, Genelia D’Souza, Kiara Advani, Parineeti Chopra, and others.

They are continuously expanding, creating designs that stand the test of time and show a coalescence of femininity and glamour. As they announce their two new flagship openings in New Delhi and Los Angeles, along with the launch of their latest collection A Summer Memoir, we interact over email, and find out from Monica Shah what she has to say about ensuring stability for the kaarigars, the one celebrity they would want to work with, and their future plans as they complete 12 years in the industry, among other things.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest collection?

A Summer Memoir is a bridal collection that is inspired by the idea of togetherness — the time a bride spends with her loved ones and the memories she makes with them. The pieces are handcrafted using our signature techniques like EkTaar, ombre and hues, and carry this very dreamy quality.

The collection offers a diverse selection of ensembles — from gowns and lehengas to dresses and more — so there’s something for everyone from the bride to the bridal party. The colour palette is also refreshing and unique. The pieces are lightweight yet glamorous and are handcrafted keeping in mind the precious moments, allowing the wearer to immerse themselves fully and beautifully in them.

You try to retain a lot of the old artisanal crafts such as ektaar; how were these affected during the pandemic?

With a dip in occasions came a dip in consumption, so naturally, the artisanal community took a hit. Our craftsmen are a part of who we are, so our priority has always been to sustain them.

We’re glad things are looking up now. In fact, the pandemic has brought a distinct shift in perspectives among consumers. There is a newfound love and appreciation for Indian crafts and techniques while being mindful of luxury. So age-old artisanal crafts are gaining a stronger foothold again.

How different are the flagship stores in Delhi and Los Angeles?

While both our stores are designed to offer the signature JADE luxury experience, they’re directed to different sets of audiences, in terms of location which plays a key role in selecting a bridal ensemble.

Our Delhi store is likely to have more Indian-centric pieces, while the LA store will have pieces that are more modern and global. Having said that, all our garments are crafted with the same philosophy and carry the JADE DNA of contemporising crafts.

You have completed 12 years in the industry, what are some of the significant changes that have taken place in the past?

I think the brides today know what they want. They don’t just blindly follow trends or traditions. When we started 12 years ago, there was a demand for only a certain kind of ensemble – overtly traditional and heavy.

And it was deeply influenced by the media. Today, women are far more discerning. They want their bridal ensembles to tell their stories and help them feel empowered in their own skin rather than [being] weighed down.

Which one celebrity you are yet to work with, and would want to?

I would say, Rupi Kaur. She’s fierce, outspoken and her art adds light to the world. She embodies what it means to be a global citizen at the same time, honouring her roots. It would be a joy to work with her.

What do you look forward to after completing a decade in terms of carving a niche and surviving an ever-changing industry?

I look forward to having a presence that is truly global — more stores all over the world, so we get to interact with more and more brides and also take India’s artisanal legacy across the globe.

While we are meeting more clients than ever before — thanks to virtual consults — it would be a pleasure to offer the sensorial experience of JADE to more women across the world.

How do you intend to support artisans in the pandemic and how have you managed it?

We have been supporting our artisans since the beginning and will continue to do so, come what may. With weddings back on the radar, we’re also back to crafting couture pieces.

We also have The Chanakya School of Craft — our non-profit devoted to sustaining Indian arts and crafts while empowering women from underprivileged backgrounds to have viable careers. This is a lifelong commitment for us at JADE

Take a look at their latest bridal collection below.

A Summer Memoir by JADE A Summer Memoir by JADE A Summer Memoir by JADE A Summer Memoir by JADE A Summer Memoir by JADE
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