Designer Anju Modi talks about her SS'22 edit and her next web project with Sanjay Leela Bhansali
The couturier is currently working with Aditi Rao Hydari on her next web series where she plays Anarkali
Her relentless journeys into the southern states to learn the technical nuances from the experienced weavers made Anju Modi what she is today -- an expert in textiles and the long-forgotten weaving techniques. For more than 30 years, Modi has been promoting a fusion of regional weaves and textiles through her eponymous brand headquartered in Delhi and has been worn by the Bollywood divas right from Madhuri Dixit to Alia Bhatt. Recently in town to showcase her latest winter bridal edit at The India Story, Anju spoke at length about her journey, the evolution of fashion, her upcoming Spring-Summer collections her future projects with the flamboyant filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Excerpts from the long chat:
In these 30 years of your career, how do you think fashion has evolved in our country?
There’s a sea of change both in terms of designs and outlook towards fashion. Though I would like to point out that fashion has more than 500 years of history in our country. Look at the age-old jamdani, Baluchari, Kantha or Bandhani works, you will notice that each artist or craftsman is a designer himself with such a rich repository of aesthetics and design skills. But somehow, during the colonial period, our indigenous designs lost relevance and got sidelined. They again got revived and came to the limelight when designers started rediscovering and re-interpreting them in modern silhouettes. Also, we saw the women coming out of their closets and looking beyond the traditional sari look, experimenting with salwars and kurtis.
Now, with the world opening up in the post-digital revolution era, there’s a beautiful global influence in the designs that retain the essence of our traditional craft. So, global silhouettes meld with traditional crafts and the younger generation simply loves the same. They have a very strong sense of individuality and fashion and know what they want. They won’t wear anything random now and I love the way things have shaped up in the fashion scene currently since the entire outlook has changed.
Had the pandemic further added to the evolution?
Definitely so, though it was a tragic occurrence in all our lives, the pandemic has also brought in indelible changes in the way we perceive fashion. Just as we have started valuing relationships more, we have also started valuing what we buy and have started cutting down on excess. We are now more conscious of waste and buy something that we can wear in more than one way and something that would last more than a few seasons. We are also realizing the value of outfits that are handmade.
Personally, as a design label, our team has downsized extra frills and is more careful while cutting fabrics and using the extra cloth for masks or distributing them freely for other usages.
Tell us about your festive bridal wear?
Since textiles have been my forte for ages, I have played around them in this edit too and have used bandhani work on woven benarasi silk lehengas. It’s a time-consuming and tedious process but I wanted to juxtapose the crafts together. I have incorporated intense colours of the Indian spices from turmeric and sunflower yellow to red chilli powder and sindoori red. Since the collection got unveiled a little after the pandemic, I used the colour red a lot because it embodies the energy and lends a charming power to the entire look. The ensemble includes lehengas with short cholis and hip-length jacket cholis besides anarkalis with lehengas, jackets with lehenga skirts and there’re lots of fusion and global influences visible in the collection.
What will be the mood board of your Spring Summer’22 edit?
It will be an all-white collection. After two years of stifling confinement, everyone wants to come out clean and pure and needs to be detoxified. A lot of revenge consumption is going on right now but by next year summer there will be equilibrium and one would enjoy the calmness of white. Besides white, there will be shades of beige and a lot of bright, optimistic sunflower yellow. I have used mostly light summer fabrics like khadi, handwoven linen, cotton and mulmul.
How has it been working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali in two of his most loved films?
Oh, he is a pure joy to work with. He is extremely meticulous and particular about everything and has an eye for detail. He never shies away from expenses that are required to get quality work and always thinks in a big, opulent manner.
How different it is to design costumes for films and series?
In a film, there is a script, a storyline, characters and emotions involved and also, there are situations. So a lot of deep research is required for a great look and it’s challenging since there is a time constraint.
Your upcoming film projects?
I am currently working with Aditi Rao Hydari on her next web series where she plays Anarkali. I am dressing her up for the role and for that, I have to go back in time and live the era through the few historical references including Mughal miniature painting and frequent visits to libraries.
There’s another web series with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, a Netflix original based in the pre-independence era Lahore. So, there will be a lot of shararas and ghararas and Peshawari fashion from that era.
Wardrobe essentials for the coming summer?
An all-white mulmul kurta, a white anarkali replete with Chikankari work that you can pair with a colourful bandhani dupatta, some indigo and kantha outfits and mostly light n easy wear.
Do you think most of the Bollywood actresses who got married recently looked all the same in their ensembles?
Yeah, I feel they were stuck somewhere and looked somewhat similar. I can’t say why there's no variation but I feel they should experiment with their bridal trousseau a little.
Price on request. On anjumodi.com