This Chennai-based artist shows you how to truly own a Louis Vuitton. Make it a Shirin Watwani original, she says
We last caught up with Shirin Watwani two years back at her vernissage of acrylics on canvas, where subsequently she was sold-out. As a petulant grey cat sits languidly on a Furla bag, now she has our attention again with her unique style of marquage art on luxury goods. With fashionistas and art enthusiasts in the city offering her their Goyards and Hermeses, she says, “The first luxury bag I painted on was the Louis Vuitton ‘Neverfull’ that a friend of mine gave me to experiment on during the time I was doing my trials. I painted a magpie in flight for her.”
The former graphic designer has not moved away from her signature naturalistic style — perfecting every wisp of kitty fur or flamingo plume and reveling in themes from nature. The aforementioned grey feline is that patron’s much loved pet, we find out.“It just so happens that my very first commissioned order was also to paint on the LV ‘Neverfull’. The bag belonged to Madhura Kumar Visweswaran, who also bought three pieces of my canvas art during my exhibition!” smiles the Fine Arts graduate, who concedes that her art gives the bags a new dimension, a unique identity — in this case a bashful spray of pink bougainvillea flowers.
Though the artist avers that for her a bag is just a substrate to paint on — including the Hermes ‘Evelyn’! How challenging was the transition from canvas to luxe accessories? “It all started when my friend Kinnera Choudary, insisted that I paint on her bags. Reluctantly I agreed. However, there was no looking back from there. I thoroughly enjoyed painting on her bag and wanted to paint more and more handbags after that!” says Shirin, adding how she proceeded to paint on scores of bags, for months, to perfect the art and test the durability, before taking orders. Shirin describes her work as 'wearable art', and adds that, "I realised that it gives some people joy to hang my art on their walls, while others love to 'wear' it or carry it around with them."
Shirin who has studied at the Billy Blue College of Design, Australia, agrees that the process of marquage is more time consuming, tedious and has no-room-for-error as compared to canvas painting. “The paints I use on handbags are of international standards, used by other marquage artists around the world as well. Needless to say, they are fully waterproof and are reasonably scratch and fade-proof too,” informs Shirin adding that she can paint on any surface that has leather or leatherette — though the glossier the surface the tougher her work. The artist, who has an Instagram page, has orders for three large canvases to finish, before she can start painting to put together artworks for her next showcase.
From Rs 30,000 onwards for bags.