Kantha by Farah Khan is a story of proud kantha artistes in Santiniketan
THE PURPOSE of instilling a sense of pride among the kantha artistes in Santiniketan made Farah Khan sideline her flourishing business of Kashmiri embroidered products and start her eponymous label in 2007. An army officer’s wife, her rendezvous with kantha happened when her husband was posted in Panagarh, in the district of Burdwan.
The Mumbai-born couturier says, “When I visited the kantha artistes in Santiniketan, I felt that they lacked a sense of entitlement towards the rich craftsmanship and pride of being an artiste. I could see a stark difference between their confidence and that of their Kashmiri counter parts. Kantha is as valuable as Kashmiri embroidery, but the karigars here did not feel that they were artistes.” She adds, “I also realised that either kantha was very expensive, only meant for a certain class of people, or you would get a bad quality kantha in New Market. I made sure I would make it affordable for the common woman.”
Her products are priced from `950 onwards, and it includes saris, dupattas and stoles. She is now working on more modern silhouettes. We loved a chocolate brown voluminous skirt with kantha embroidery conjuring clustered flowers. She adds that she wants the young generation to embrace the art form. Her accessories include bespoke handbags, mobile cases, lipstick cases, wallets and more.
Farah’s 600-sq ft store inside the cordoned-off area of Fort William impressed us with its collection. From a single stitch to traditional motifs and even geometrical patterns, her collection matches the sartorial sensibilities of women of all ages. An interesting aspect of Khan’s kantha repertoire is that some products bear an inclination towards fine Kashmiri embroidery. Case in point, a navy blue dupatta in Bangalore silk — a beautiful synthesis of the two art forms. Khan informs, “It feels good to know that my products are loved and popular among the women of our fraternity and beyond,” says Khan, informing us that she will soon start an online store besides a brick-and-mortar one.
Kantha by Farah Khan is available in leading online shopping stores.