Sruti Dalmia’s Gemini series celebrates emancipation and heritage
At the London Fashion Week (Autumn/Winter ’21) Sruti Dalmia showcased artisanry that’s intrinsic to the design language of the East and yet, enormously underrepresented on the global front. “I was born in Kolkata and I still have a home there, and I spent many years in Myanmar. I’ve experienced so many design heritages. But not many of them have found representation internationally. I showcased the first part of my Gemini Series’, The Unsung Melody, at this year’s London Fashion Week, that is dedicated to exploring the stunning workmanship and indigenous weaves of North-East India and Myanmar. It’s targeted at a global audience and has an effortless minimalism and ecological consciousness since responsible production is a big focus for me,” Dalmia shares over the phone from Delhi, days after her digital showcase at LFW.
Though traditional Burmese craftsmanship and silks of yore anchor the designer’s winning series, Dalmia’s work is rooted in cultural exchange, which is also a major driving force in fashion at the moment. The pièces de résistance in her series are made from lotus silk that is produced using lotus stem fibres - a production route that is indigeous to Vietnam and Myanmar.
“One has to understand that luxury fashion is not about heavy materials or opulence, luxury is about time and effort; I have worked with weavers from Myanmar, Nagaland and several parts of the North East using upcycled and recycled fabrics, we’re also upcycling all silk wastage into fresh yarns at its weaving centre to produce new pieces. My idea was to move away from what we've seen in the Indian market. It’s about originating a new look. It may not look Indian but hey, it is! ” Dalmia remarks.
Dalmia was born into a Bengali family in Kolkata and moved to New Delhi a few years later. The designer picked up a credible amount of her design training from her spouse’s grandmother – the family runs a boutique in Lucknow, India, specialising in chikankari embroidery. But it was only in 2017 that she realised her vision and launched her eponymous label and Rangoon flagship. She produced her first collection in January 2018, which she sold out in 20 days.
Dalmia’s The Unsung Melody edit features drawstring shirts, A-line numbers, blazer and shorts, puff-sleeved tops and trousers in breezy silks, warm earthy tones and fresh winter colours alongside artwork that depicts the confluence of Asian cultures. The power pieces are deconstructable and have a transitional quality. “For so long, fashion in India has moved around the wedding spectrum; fashion needs to exist independent of the wedding industry. My line almost marks an emancipation from that, it’s about liberty and conscious luxury,” Dalmia says.
The tensions between digital and physical showcase in fashion has been unmissable - Dalmia, who presented an eclectic fashion film for the London Fashion Week and seems to have broadly aced the phygital spectrum, misses the days of the power-packed runway sets. “There are good and bad sides to the digital shift, of course. While it has its perks, I miss the energy of a live show and the personal connect between. I do hope we can get back to doing live shows soon,” Dalmia says.