West on backburner: Designers endorse Indian heritage

New Delhi : Are Indian designers done with Western influences? Many are travelling the length and breadth of the country in search of traditional craftsmanship, colours and techniques to add uniqueness to their creativity and give a modern connect to India’s rich cultural heritage.Their itinerary has states like Gujarat, known for its vibrant colours and embroidery; Rajasthan for its traditional bandhini art; and Jammu and Kashmir for gulaala and giltoor flower prints.

James Ferreira, who focusses on handlooms, is happy with the shift and hopes the trend is here to stay.

“I am happy to see that designers are finally taking inspiration from India, especially the interiors. For me, Gujarat is one of the hot favourite fashion destinations as a lot of designers are inspired by the state. I found the place beautiful as I admire its weaving, colours and handwoven techniques,” Ferreira told IANS.

“By taking inspiration from India, we are giving the country a modern connect and exploring the rich heritage, which is untapped,” said the designer.

The West has been done to death and with more designers entering the business, the competition has become tougher. That might explain why they are focussing on India’s traditional art.

The India theme was predominant at the just concluded Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week — many designers splashed an effervescent collection inspired by traditional weaves, embroidery, handloom in vibrant colours like orange, red and yellow and it certainly marked a revival of sorts.

Apart from Ferreira, Nachiket Barve’s ‘Caravan’ was also Gujarat-inspired, while Anupama Dayal’s clothes had the stamp of Surat craftsmanship.

Dayal feels India is one of the biggest exporters of textiles and so taking inspiration is just a step towards making the heritage stronger.

Kavita Bhartia brought on the ramp some unseen, hand-woven techniques from Rajasthan. She even explored some unknown parts of Delhi through her designs.

Pallavi Jaipur and Dolly J took inspiration from Rajasthan and used a mix of block prints, tie and die and bandhinis.

Ace designer Manish Malhotra, known for styling some glamorous Bollywood beauties, showcased an elegant collection inspired by the popular flowers of Kashmir – gulaala and giltoor.

“I feel, of late, Kashmiri embroidery was seen more in carpets and shawls. I wanted to bring it to high-end Indian wear and into mainstream fashion. The response has been really good,” he said.

According to Barve, India has so much to offer.

“I find it very interesting that India as a country and culture has so much to offer. As a responsible designer, we first need to look within ourselves, then go outside. Each part of India is different. Even working with the craftsman is different and our effort will give them a continuous source of income,” he added.

Not only apparel designers, even accessory designers are looking at remote corners of the country to take inspiration.

Radhika Gupta, who works under the label Five Elements, said: “Our culture is so vast and so colourful that if somebody is not taking inspiration, then it is not justified. You can experiment so much with India’s rich culture. There are a variety of fabrics, techniques and that’s why I always tend to take inspiration from my culture.”

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