Celebrated fashion designer Gaurang Shah's latest Paithani weaves are marked by elegance
For self-taught designer Gaurang Shah, who specialises in Jamdani weaves, saris will always remain his first love. The Hyderabad-based designer, who owes it to his parents for instilling in him a love for all things traditional, works with weavers from across India including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. The award-winning designer, whose clothes are worn by celebrities including Vidya Balan, and Sonam K Ahuja, believes there’s a certain charm to the understated yet elegant traditional weaves. The couturier talks about his latest Paithani collection and why he doesn’t believe in sartorial trends. Excerpts:
Tell us about your latest collection?
My latest collection will be all about the new Paithani that have arrived from our looms and they are spectacular. The saris are in alluring colours. There are chocolate brown saris with gold zari weft with sunflowers. We will also reveal a violet warp with gold zari weft, and pink roses and navy blue with silver weft. Such Paithani saris have never been imagined before. Besides that, the eternal Jamdani weaves will also be available in our stores in varied colours, motifs, along with a wide range of choices from saris to outfits, to mix and match.
What are the colours, styles and cuts that are trending this summer?
This season, pastels and bright tones are in from mild yellow and mint green to deeper hues. The textures that are attracting a lot of attention are silk, khadi, organza and heirloom textiles like Banarasi, Kanchi, khadi, Uppada, and Paithani.
What are your fashion tips for our readers?
Choose Indian wear, people will love to see you draped in attention-grabbing saris like organza with a border in silk, and muga and a pallu in satin that has different textures. You can also go for designer embellishments juxtaposed in different borders using varying yarn textures effectively. Silk by muga for its substantive solidity, tissue by tissue for its sheen, silk by silk and the sheer organza are good bets to grab eyeballs. Try traditional Kanjeevaram saris, which have nice drapes, liberal use of gold zari, deep jewel tone colours as well as contrasting borders known as korvai. If you love to wear Indian outfits, go for a floor-length anarkali, lehengas, and ghagras with well-designed kurtis or cholis.
Internationally, what is trending this year?
Being organic and natural is the in-thing. Despite a leaning towards Western wear, the sari appeal continues to grow. Intricately woven handloom dresses have become appealing more than ever, too.
What are the things from last year that a fashion conscious person should avoid or follow this year?
I never recommend people to follow trends. Understanding your inner self, body silhouette and personality helps a lot in picking up the right piece. Be a trendsetter. Saris are classics. Trends will come and go, but a piece of the woven sari is timeless, a heritage handed down through generations.
Who do you think are the most stylish actors and why?
Vidya Balan and Kirron Kher are outstanding ambassadors of Indian jamdani saris. Both Vidya Balan and Kirron Kher are among those fine actors who have made the sari their signature outfit. An icon for the modern-day Jamdani Indian wear is Sonam Kapoor Ahuja.
What are your plans for the Fall/Winter collection this year? Last year, it had brocade and was opulent and traditional yet understated. How will it be this year?
It’s still in the concept stage, but as always, we will present unseen jamdani weaves on the ramp. What are the wardrobe must-haves for any man and woman? A Jamdani sari is a must-have. You can also combine kota with jamdani weaves and chikankari embroidery, to create a picture-perfect look! Muted tones of browns and military greens suit the Indian skin tone. Go for a black kota with multi-coloured jamdani — it is a showstopper.
You had collaborated with the Raja Ravi Varma Foundation and made Jamdani weaves of his paintings on saris. Before that, it was Laxman Aelay. Any future plans to weave paintings of other artists on saris?
It takes a lot of research, intensity, and conviction from weavers, to transform great work of paintings in Jamdani weave and hold its glory. What drew me to create Raja Ravi Varma’s work in saris were his paintings, which often show women in drapes and saris. Right now, I am immersed in accomplishing the Raja Ravi Varma project and translate 30 paintings of him using Jamdani weaves — 30 saris divided into three collections: women, godly figures and the stories of Raja Ravi Varma.
What are your future plans in fashion?
My goal is to expand the potential of Jamdani — using the Dhaka weave, Srikakulam Jamdani, Venkatgiri techniques, Uppada Kota, Paithani united with motifs and patterns from Mughal architecture, Kashmir, and Turkish tiles. Our international foray has begun — we have one store in the US, and soon we will add another one. We also plan to open a couple in Dubai and London this year.