Gaurang Shah’s Chitravali seeks to replicate the Ajanta frescoes
With his Fall / Winter 2017 collection, Chitravali, it would seem as if Hyderabad-based designer Gaurang Shah has gone in a completely different direction. As far as his use of colours are concer-ned, at the very least. Sombre, muted and earthy, the line, inspired by 30 frescoes from the Ajanta caves, is a departure from his earlier work, be it the bright yellows and reds of Samyukta or the calming pastel greens and refre-shing turquoise of Vrindavan. Think sage green, burnt orange, russet and copper, interspersed with steel blue and dull vermilion.
His choice of colours aside, the focus with this elaborate assembly of saris, lehengas, kurtas and salwars, now retailing out his store on Lavelle Road, is the Kalamkari work that pays homage to the Ajanta frescoes that date back to the 2nd Century BC. Done by a single painter, it’s no surprise that Chitravali has been two years in the making, raising the question, ‘Could this be his best work yet’. “Though I have experimented with Kalamkari a lot, this was very different. It was challenging to accurately capture the aesthetics of the murals. Plus, each painting was a tedious 17-step process,” says Gaurang, of the garments that can be best described as wearable art.
Keeping it natural
“Since the collection was painted in the Kalamkari style, the muted tones of the colour palette came from natural dyes,” he adds. The kasaya (robes worn by Buddhist monks) red for instance, is derived from a mix of madder and pomegranate seeds, the earthen yellow from turmeric, black from mixing iron and jaggery, and moss green from a blend of indigo and myrobalan. The colours, while sombre, are far from grim, but more distinguished and poignant. The rich and thick golden zari, tight pleats and flowing silhou-ettes lend the ensembles quiet drama and sophisticated glamour.
Every aspect of this collection has a story that needs to be highlighted. The textile that the designer has gone with was woven in Kanchipuram, but with fabrics that are unconventional. “Yarns like khadi, organza and muga silk, woven in Kanchipuram have been used extensively and have been accentuated with chikankari and mukaish embroidery,” explains the designer.
With Chitravali doing well in India, Gaurang has shifted focus to the US where he is currently spending time setting up his New Jersey store, while also holding pop-ups across America.