EVEN AS the bi-annual fashion carnival, the Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) unfurled its Autumn-Winter 2017 edition in Delhi on Wednesday, there was a subtle shift in the general mood of proceedings on Day One. The seriousness in the air could have been attributed to the cause at hand — handlooms — which have become a focal point of the season. The Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), which has hosted shows supporting Varanasi brocade and homegrown khadi in the past, is for the first time endorsing the cause of the handloom industry in such a big fashion. And with the Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani in attendance at the opening show, Sunil Sethi, President, FDCI, was a happy man. “The FDCI had always taken handlooms very seriously but this is the first time we have projected them this way. This has a lot to do with the support from the Ministry of Textiles, Development Commissioner (Handlooms). It’s a synergy — the design fraternity is taking handlooms seriously, and so is the government,” he said.
The tone for the day was set by a panel discussion with the likes of designers Gaurav Gupta, Sanjay Garg, Anita Lal from Good Earth, Sally Holkar from The Handloom School and Uzramma from Malkha India where Garg made a plea for wages of weavers and also durability of the fabric. “In the prevalent times of climate change, we should embrace handlooms. Given their non-existent carbon footprint, they are a green industry,” said Uzramma. Here are the highlights from the ramp on the opening day:
With the Jharcraft show, Jharkhand’s rich weaving and textile culture was brought to the fore. Designers Rina Dhaka, Shaina NC, Dabiri and Shruti Sancheti showcased their designs, made in collaboration with weavers and artisans from the state. The silk-rich state, with its offerings of muga, mulberry and eri silks, proved to be a treasure trove for designers. As Rina Dhaka said, “I have worked with silk, which has been treated to look like organic cotton. The embroidery and the tassels are all special motifs used and worn by the Chhau dancers.” While Sancheti took the minerals and deep forest reserves of the state and created looks in bold metallic colours of rust, black, deep purple and mahogany, Dabiri used a lot of mirror-work and silver gota-patti on mulberry silk fabric, while Shaina NC showcased her silk sari collection with a unique double sari drape.
Ikat specialist Madhu Jain celebrated the completion of 30 years in the industry with a show highlighting “a dying art” — the double ikat weave. There was also liberal use of golden gota-patti, which added a certain glamour to the collection of dominant black, yellow, red and beige. Many of her family members walked the ramp for her, making this collection deeply personal for Jain. Mumbai designer Krishna Mehta, on the other hand, used Maheshwari fabric along with other silks like Pochampally to create a very young and spunky collection called “Parted Lips”. “I have contrasted the designs too — with pleats and layers and used metallic embellishments to add drama to the outfit. Handloom doesn’t mean boring,” added Mehta.
If you thought handlooms were only meant to make a statement or for standing out at an “arty” do, think twice. Designer duo Abraham & Thakore featured formal work wear made with natural organic fibres. “We have used cotton and silk blends from all over India and fashioned them into work wear. The fabrics work wonderfully in Indian summer,” said Abraham. The collection featured dresses, trousers, saris and suits for men in blues, reds and monochrome shades of black and white. One also saw a lot of asymmetrical cuts and hemlines.