Chaitanya Rao’s latest edit defies seasons and asks you to discover your tribe
Chaitanya Rao’s latest edit, Tribe, takes inspiration from the world around us and manages to stay true to the real ‘you’; reinvigorating the belief that true fashion always looks inward. We caught up with the designer at his studio to find out what Tribe promises for his loyal clientele.
“The collection draws inspiration from our own native communities. We’re usually drawn to fashion trends from outside the country, but something changed for me during the lockdown. I guess it was an introspection of sorts. I decided to look at inspirations from within the country. From motifs that represent us as who we are. I realised that native tribal motifs and designs across the country were obsessed with the ecru, red and black colour palette; the designs too were often extremely complex, but came across as something much simpler –— I decided that this is where I would begin this collection from. The collection was built from this beautifully rooted base,” opens Chaitanya.
From embroidery-heavy blouses paired with structured saris to tribal motif embroidery patches on organic cotton for both men and women, the collection also features individual pieces that celebrate indigenous techniques like tie and dye. We browse through the collection and something that catches our eye is an overwhelming presence of fitted garments. The much-loved flowy summery silhouette seems almost absent. “I think my background in styling for films has led to this very clear choice of fitted silhouettes over flowy ones. I like to give my customer a piece of clothing that will accentuate their body and celebrate every bit of them. This is an unconscious bias and so far, it’s worked to my advantage, I think,” the designer explains.
From organic cottons to silk and organza, the collection boasts of quite a diverse set of fabrics. The pieces are also work-heavy and therefore we ask the designer about his well-known relationship with his karigars and their art. “I have always worked very closely with karigars, especially from North India. They come down and work out of my studio and elevate most of my designs to masterpieces. The lockdown was a trying time for both my karigars and me. I needed them around, but they wanted to go back home and so we managed to organise that amid the lockdown. I am glad they are back with me now. The lockdown has forced me to rediscover what is available within India and that is something I am thankful for,” Chaitanya explains.
The conversation moves to Chaitanya’s first love: styling for films. “Surprisingly, the lockdown didn’t affect my film work that much. I continued to work on the films I had signed on for. We managed to complete Nayanathara’s Netrikann during the lockdown with all the necessary precautions in place and shooting for Andrea Jeremiah’s Pisasu 2 that began during the lockdown is still underway. What also opened up during the lockdown were opportunities on OTT platforms. I was asked to design for quite a few OTT projects and managed to style Andrea Jeremiah for Rajiv Menon’s Reunion (part of the Putham Pudhu Kaalai anthology) that was shot and released during the lockdown,” reveals the designer.
So, is this a Spring-Summer edit? We ask the designer. “Not really, it just so happened that I chose to release it during the Spring-Summer season. It’s been a year since my last collection and I was itching to put something out there. I build my clothes to be wearable all year through. I don’t really enjoy creating clothes that are season specific. This usually works against me as my clientele often tell me that my creations have lasted them for years. I mean, that means they won’t be visiting me that often, but at least I sleep better knowing that something I’ve created is long-lasting and worth what people spend on it. My next collection is a bridal collection and I’m not sure when I’ll release it, because as you know, I don’t follow seasons,” he concludes.
Tribe is available for preview only by appointment.