Sanah Sharma brings art, science and music together to give pre-loved saris a couture upgrade

Highlights from the Made from Nothing collection include the A Cut in Moonlight evening dress, Luna Top that were instinctively cut to the song Clair de Lune
Arc Jacket by Sanah Sharma
Arc Jacket by Sanah Sharma

Sanah Sharma is well aware that she might not be among the first names that cross your mind when you think of designers from  Chennai. And yet, the youngster is far from letting that bring her down. 
It has been a couple of years since she launched her eponymous brand, but in 2020, the 27-year-old designer — who is well-known among fashion’s academic circles for her innovative zero-waste cutting pattern called the Planar Flux technique — has upped the ante.

First, she launched her S/S ’20 collection that featured almost architectural silhouettes that were feminine and easy-to-wear. And now, she has a limited-edition line that is equal parts sustainable as it is couture. “I first launched the brand in 2018. But, it was in 2019 that we were certain of our techniques and our capabilities, and have been building on it since then,” explains the creative head of the label.

Employing Sanah’s unique patterning style — that is currently part of the official syllabus for graduate design students at the Iowa State University — the Made from Nothing line started as an upcycling project for pre-loved silk saris during the lockdown. “Sustainable fashion has always been limited in its accessibility. With this line, we were looking at making sustainable and circular explorative fashion more affordable,” shares the designer who was mentored by the famous Subtraction Cutting innovator, Professor Julian Roberts of Royal College of Art (London).


Tell me why
The Planar Flux concept relies on the merging of the principle of pattern-making with maths and science. This method allows one to create voluminous and/or layered garments with just half the fabric. The hybrid pattern cutting technique can be thought of as a giant Möbius strip, where the material moves in relation to the body.


Couture connect
A continuation of her S/S ’20 collection that explored the fit and flare silhouette, Victorian draping, exaggerated sleeves and even the oversized bow, the six-piece limited-edition line offers evening dresses and tops. “Sustainable clothing comes with a preconceived notion of being restrictive in the use of colours and having a distinctly minimal aesthetic. I felt that there was a gap between what is perceived as sustainable and what is perceived as fashionable. And so, I decided to work on a line that was both,” says the Pearl Academy graduate.

Crossover hit
While the line does not possess an overarching theme or colourway, we learn that the connecting thread in the design process is music. Aptly named after the song that they were cut to, the one-shoulder Dichotomy Top, A Cut in Moonlight evening dress and the halter Luna Top attempt to capture the emotion and melodic movements of French composer Claude Debussy’s best-loved piano piece Clair de Lune (In the light of the Moon) — through their draped silhouettes. The Vera and the Mari dresses also follow suit, and come inspired by Ludovico Einaudi’s Primavera.

As for what to expect from the label going forward, Sanah reveals that she is working on making her brand sustainable in every sense of the word. “Sustainability is often synonymous with the choice of raw material, and so I chose to explore the advantages of a design-led approach, instead. However, now, I am keen to explore the material aspect as well.” A bamboo fabric collection is in the works, we hear.

Made from Nothing starts at Rs 3,000.

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