How Indian designers and weavers are having their moment on the international fashion scene

How Indian designers and weavers are having their moment on the international fashion scene

From the recently-held Dior show in Mumbai to the MET Gala and King Charles’ coronation

NiveditaUpdated: Saturday, May 20, 2023, 10:27 PM IST
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Pic: Chanakya International

It’s not just Indian celebrities who make strides, internationally, in 2023 with their films and red carpet appearances but Indian brands are also propelling the West to appreciate the rich art and craft that the country possesses. Talk about the Met Gala rug that was made by Kerala-based design studio, Neytt by Extraweave, or Dior show in Mumbai or an Indian designer, Priyanka Mallick, being invited to add her touch to Prince Charles’ coronation ceremony, India is shining at major events globally this year.

The Met Gala carpet red carpet was designed by a design house is based in Alappuzha and is led by Sivan Santhosh and Nimisha Srinivas, who take extreme pride in representing India.

“It was a huge day for us and for India, and we were proud to showcase our beautiful sisal carpet to the world through Met Gala 2023. This is an inspiration for all the artisans in India. The people in Kerala are proud; including my employees who ask what is next for us... How can we make it better? What kind of innovations we can work on...” says Sivan. “This will inspire more people to use more artisans from India for the global stage,” Sivan adds.

Pic: Chanakya International

Designed with the inputs shared by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, credited for this year’s decorations for Met Gala along with event planner Raul Àvila, the carpet was made from sisal fibres and took between 60-70 days to make from scratch.

Talking about how the association happened, Sivan says they got the opportunity through their long-term customer, Fibreworks. “The met gala organiser wanted to change from the traditional wool carpet to more sustainable natural fibre sisal. Fibreworks approached us and that’s how the opportunity came through,” he says.

Apart from the Met Gala, we recently read how Indian designer Priyanka Mallick was chosen to design the outfits of King Charles III and his wife, Queen Camilla, for the King’s coronation ceremony, that took place earlier this month. Based out of West Bengal, the designer apparently received a letter from the British Royal Family, in which she was praised by the Queen of Consort, for designing her dress. As per reports, Mallick has designed the outfits with local input and stylists from London.

When we talk about fashion’s biggest moment in recent times, we can’t stop talking about Dior’s pre-fall collection show at the Gateway of India, Mumbai. It became a historic moment in the design world globally.  Amalagamting aesthetically crafted designs with Indian culture, the show reflected the longstanding friendship between Karishma Swali, Artistic Director of Chanakya International and the Chanakya School of Craft, and Maria Grazia Chiuri, Creative Director of Women’s Collection, Dior.

One witnessed fine Indian craft displayed through the beautiful ensembles presented by the French luxury fashion house along with Indian design elements like rangoli tracing large elephant motifs, and classical music for the models to walk to. The backdrop was a classic Indian toran prepared in 4500 hours by Chanakya School’s artisans. The toran represented the auspicisous elements of Indian traditions woven together for posterity.

All this was witnessed by host of international celebrities like Cara Delevigne, Freida Pinto, Maisie Williams, and Simone Ashley, who flew down, especially for the event.

Swali says that their relationship with Dior is an intimate one. “It’s a wonderful exchange of ideas guided by an aligned vision for the appreciation for global crafts and the responsibility towards preserving, reviving and keeping them ever-relevant for the future generation.”

She believes that partnerships like the one they share with Dior and Maria Grazia Chiuri play a pivotal role in the continued patronage of the material culture of India, and preservation of our precious craft legacies.

“We are ever-inspired by the way House of Dior continues to be vested in craft, couture, culture, and women. Through a contemplative dialogue with artists, creators, and artisans, we have presented the opportunity to explore the infinite possibilities of craft and couture. This is indeed a deeply rewarding process for us,” she shares.

Swali is also encouraged by the future and its possibilities of Indian artists and crafts. “For us, providing women with creative freedom and the opportunity to be autonomous is top of mind. In the future, we hope to create a global network where design students from across the world can learn ways in which craft can be seamlessly integrated into art and design. Our cultural heritage and craft legacies are unique in the world. Through our collaborations, we solidify our collective commitment towards craft,” she says.

Other brands like Interflora, a luxury design and decor house, also take pride in the recent associations including the Dior show, an event with Christian Louboutin when he visited India, The Gucci store launch, Charlotte Tilbury launch event, as well as the NMACC event in Mumbai which was attended by Bollywood and Hollywood celebrities.

 Anuja Joshi, Co-Founder & CEO of Interflora India, says that over the last year, various brands have brought together the best of global fashion and Indian artistry.

“When a brand like ours gets an opportunity to create floral experiences for such events, we always go back to our roots. It is always an interesting mix of colour and texture in the forms of potted plants, handwoven ladis, tagar jal and various props sourced from the length and breadth of India. Be it the table setting done for Dior in local wildflowers and vintage perfume bottles sourced from Moradabad, the opulent cascading dinner tables curated for the Sabyasachi (Mukherjee) store launch with fragrant Indian flowers and orchid plants from Bangalore in terracotta pots, to the dadima woolen ball inspired vases for NMACC launch,” says Joshi.

For the expert, today’s age is about collaboration and the common thread between all these international brands is that they are open to experimenting with Indian craftsmanship and artistry and adapting them into their brand language.

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