Couturier Kalpana Sonthalia talks about her design journey with her label Adorning God
Kalpana Sonthalia's label Adorning God has earned renown as a one-stop destination for accessories for deities
Couturier Kalpana Sonthalia’s design journey has been almost entirely influenced by her personal devotion to God. During Bharatnatyam exponent Srekala Bharath's Instagram Live session, the Chennai-based designer shared some insight into her creative process.
"Every piece I make is inspired by my devotion and is a product of my passion. Most designers only create maybe one piece for Janmashtami, but my store offers new options every 15 days. It’s because I never repeat a look and there are so many sources of inspiration in my mind!” Sonthalia revealed.
Sonthalia's label Adorning God has earned renown as a one-stop destination for accessories and adornments and discerning ‘shringar’ pieces for embellishing divine idols. The couturier shared that her vast and immaculate personal collection of exquisite and rare pieces helped her realise that she wanted to design and embellish deities herself.
"I started collecting pieces from everywhere. I have a Krishna, Laddoo and Radha at home and I would pick up so much jewellery for them, be it bangles, necklaces or earrings. It felt like they were shopping for themselves! I never realised how poetically and flawlessly everything fell into place,” the designer shares.
Adorning God offers a diverse line of hand-woven chanderi, gota, silk pieces, along with intricate jewellery for shringar, comprising palakka mala, mulla mottu mala jewellery from Kerala, some elaborate temple jewellery pieces from Tamil Nadu, and even some embellished handcrafted pieces inspired by the design heritage of Jaipur and Kolkata.
“The person who motivated me to start my boutique was my sister, who told me that what I’m making is unique. She said, ‘what you’re making isn’t available anywhere and everyone will be interested to buy from your line!’” recalled the designer.
The label has a brick-and-mortar boutique in Kolkata’s Amherst Street, and though the designer is based in Chennai, people from all over the country can get in touch for customised pieces for their idols. “People usually reach out via phone for customised options; I embellish idols of all sizes so once someone shares the sizes they are shopping for, I advise them accordingly,” Sonthalia remarked.
The designer also revealed that the pandemic didn’t take a toll on her work. “During the past year, when the pandemic was raging, it didn’t slow down my work in any way because people were still buying pieces for their idols, especially during festivities, so I kept producing new work,” added the designer.