On the 20th anniversary of her label, Anju Modi talks to us about the evolution of desi high fashion
The ‘90s were the start of quite a few sartorial revolutions, and was also the decade couturier Anju Modi started her label which will go on to represent the best of homegrown, heritage artistry. Very few designers have contributed to contemporising age-old design techniques and weaving methods the way Modi has; the designer has also famously designed for some of the most popular films of the last decade, including Bajirao Mastani and Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela.
The designer was recently in town as a panelist on the Style Forum of the Blenders Pride Fashion Tour to discuss the significance of craftsmanship in modern India, and we caught up with her to discuss her brand’s 20-year evolution.
Tell us a little about what you plan to speak on….
The theme for this year’s Blenders Pride Fashion Tour is “My Craft, My Pride,” and one thing which I love is how they are upholding the craft and craftsmen. Craft is something to be proud of because it is about self-employment, it's about making the most of your own 'hunar' and making way for livelihood. It's the Gandhian philosophy and it is handed over from generation to generation. There's an emotion involved, there's a ‘dharohar’, this knowledge that you are doing something your grandparents have taught you.
Your label just stepped into its 20th year...
Yes. I'm a woman of today but I'm also part of yesterday. I think it's very cyclic, today I’m what I am. Tomorrow I'm going to add something or renew something, some design intervention will happen which will be different, but it will have a thread of yesterday. It's about improvising, improving, changing.
Tell us about your latest festive collection, Yamini...
This collection is very close to my heart. Yamini is inspired by the night sky, you'll find deep colours like midnight blue and crimson, there's a focus on red, smokey greys. There’s' taarkashi elements influenced by stars. I've used tussar silk, chanderi, mulmul, pure silk for this line-up.
Do you enjoy the way the Indian fashion scene is growing?
Yes, I think the boundaries are no longer there, rather it has become localised, especially craft-wise. For instance, the chikankari work done in Lucknow is a local craft but when it is used on a nice beautiful piece of tweed, especially if applied on a western trenchcoat, it’s a marriage of two cultures. I think chikankari, vegetable dye prints or maheshwari fabrics, they travel through global sectors via the designer's interpretations. So Indian fashion has the wings to fly now.
Can you tell us about your upcoming collection?
Yes, I’m going to use Maheshwari fabric it's a thin chanderi silk, it's a beautiful weave. Whenever I work with any craft I make sure I actually go where it's sourced from to be one with nature and its origins. So, when we go to Maheshwar, there's the beautiful Narmada river and we stay beside it on a tent I think these moments define me and they motivate me to design something fresh and new.