Gaurang Shah on his new collection for LFW, colour play and love for sari
While the first Gaurang Shah store in the city opened quietly three years ago, the newly renovated store in the same building as the Apparao Galleries in Nungambakkam has seen plenty of buzz with the Hyderabad-based designer making his way to the store earlier, this week. This is just ahead of his showcase at the Lakmé Fashion Week in February. We take a look at the store Gaurang and learn that nature seems to inspire not only his work but also his workspace and boutique. “Every time I think of something new, the first thing that comes to my mind is animals, birds and flowers. They have become a part of me,” shares the designer. As we enter the 5,000 sq ft store, our gaze lands on a wall on the right sporting a collage of pictures featuring celebrities like Vidya Balan and Taapsee Pannu. All whom the Hyderabad-based designer has worked with.
With a sombre interior lighting, every element of the decor from the wooden furniture to the nature-themed wall art called the Tree of life is made entirely using a permanent marker and has been picked and put together by Gaurang himself. A two-storey boutique, the ground floor stocks saris ranging from Kanjivarams to Paithanis, while the first floor has a line of kantha-embroidered kurtas and salwar kameez. “I have a niche set of clientele in Chennai and they are very specific about what they want. Just because a sari is worn by a celebrity, does not mean that they get carried away by the design,” Gaurang shares.Engaged with about 4,000 karigars who operate over 800 looms across India, Gaurang says that saris are made every day under his label, their latest addition being Republic Day-themed saris in white, saffron and green.
The practical pallu
Known for his revival of heritage weaves and intricate works on saris, we ask him about the challenges in working with weavers in present day scenario.“The only problem is that it’s not possible to get in touch with every weaver directly, so that gets laborious sometimes,” he shares. While sticking to traditional methods, it is his design technique and texture of yarn that keeps evolving. In changing times, we move on to discuss the evolution of the sari as wedding attire“Weddings have always meant saris irreplaceable.
Have we not seen our grandmothers and mothers carry themselves comfortably in a sari?” he asks, looking to dispel common misconceptions about the garment like it’s heavy to carry and time-consuming to drape. “I am happy with the way my saris look and I don’t plan to give any kind of spin to them in the future. Although they have a typical drape, they are practical and easy to wear,” he shares with a smile.
While his previous collection Chitravali was inspired by the artwork on the walls of the Ajanta caves, his upcoming line will be more colour-centric. Indigo sets the entire mood and is central to the theme of Gaurang Shah’s LFW 18 collection. Right from the weaves to the embroidery, every stage of the creation — dyes and yarn, bear a stroke of the colour. As always, the Hyderabad-based designer has included a signature masterpiece sari in the line. This is apart from anarkalis, ghagras and straight cut kurtas. The series also extends to six pieces in the menswear collection featuring dhotis sherwanis, bandhani and kalamkari kurtas. “While other designers have also used indigo in shibori and as plain-dyed fabrics, I have used it to create bandhani, ajrakh, kota and jamdani saris,” he says.
The designer goes on to explain that the yarn was dyed into three to four shades of indigo before being woven into saris. Known for his fusion of fabrics, this collection will see a combination of organza, silk and tussar. “I have worked with khadi, jamdani and chikankari embroidery in parsidora (a shade of blue), where the base of the fabric is white and the colour of embroidery is blue, he shares. Picking out a garment, Gaurang shows us how he has balanced out the use of colour on the kalamkari apparel that features a jar of flowers in red with a bird in blue. “It is easier to use indigo as an outline of a design rather than the filler inside. This also makes the blue an element, rather than the complete design,” he says, offering details on the collection that took him a year from start to finish.
`1,250 to `2,00,000.