Woven splendour for Lakme Fashion Week

Gaurang Shah’s Chaand for Lakme Fashion Week Winter 2021 is a fusion of weaving techniques

At textile designer Gaurang Shah’s signature store in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, nearly 40 saris were displayed on wooden frames in three spacious rooms. The exhibition-like display makes it easier to observe the fusion of weaving techniques. Ahead of showcasing his new collection, Chaand, at Lakme Fashion Week Winter 2021 on October 8 in Mumbai, Gaurang held a preview for his Hyderabad clientele last weekend. “Not many are keen to travel due to the pandemic, but they wanted to see the collection. So we decided to have a full-fledged preview,” says Gaurang, adding that 10 saris have already been booked by buyers.

These 40 saris were conceptualised three years ago and craft clusters that liaise with Gaurang began working in advance, thus minimising the impact of the pandemic and lockdown on this collection.

The saris of Chaand are diverse in their weaves — woven in Benaras, Kota, Srikakulam, Uppada, Venkatagiri, Kashmir and Paithan, they were later embroidered. In some cases, a single sari has been worked upon by two or three clusters. Imagine one section of the sari highlighting jamdani on khadi from Srikakulam and another section being Paithani on organza. The motifs range from traditional birds and animals to the tree of life and vintage florals.

“We have been combining different weaves over the last few years and this collection is an extension of it,” says Gaurang. The experimentation has also led to interlocking of yarns, without the weft, to enable vibrant reproduction of colours. Gaurang’s weavers experimented on the loom, without the weft, for an earlier collection of saris that reproduced Raja Ravi Varma paintings.

Showing off khadi jamdani saris, including one that incorporates a Radha Krishna motif that is representative of Rajasthan miniature style painting, Gaurang explains that brighter colours are possible while weaving without the white weft yarn.

Gaurang Shah
 

The colour palette for Chaand ranges from all-time favourites such as rose gold and vermillion red to combinations of rose pink and yellow gold, grey and ivory white, mauves, pistachio greens and deep greys.

A sari that combines Kota and Kanchi weaving techniques bears floral motifs in English pastels. A few saris incorporate traditional embroideries while others recreate embroidery-like patterns with weaves. Think Kashmiri paisleys, French knots and the Parsi gara.

A few saris were inspired by museum pieces. A sari with the Kutchi suf embroidery on fine Venkatagiri cotton took a craftswoman three years to make. “The fine threads on the sari are nearly invisible to us, but a traditional Kutch craftswoman counted the threads and did the embroidery. She worked without a design sheet; the design was all in her mind.”

Another sari showcases the aari embroidery of Kutch on a Kanjeevaram sari. The floral motifs are embroidered with six to eight shades of fine threads and took the craftsperson two-and-a-half years to make. Another sari, inspired by a heritage textile in Ahmedabad’s Calico museum, combines Paithani, Odisha ikat and Uppada jamdani techniques. It took the weavers four-and-a-half years to complete.

Does his clientele appreciate all this labour? Gaurang explains that there is a niche clientele that patronises heirloom-worthy saris. He points at two different saris, a pistachio green and a rose gold, and says they have been booked by a 60-year-old and a 23-year-old bride: “There are takers, which motivates me and in turn the weavers to keep the work going.”

Chaand will be showcased at LFW to the ghazals of Anup Jalota. Actor Taapsee Pannu will be the showstopper.

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