Swati Kalsi’s capsule collection, Now, swaps her staple embroidery for new surface techniques
Textile and fashion designer Swati Kalsi is singular in more ways than one. For starters, the New Delhi-based designer’s work has been on display more times at art shows and galleries like the Alliance Française de Delhi, Devi Art Foundation, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London than on fashion week runways. Secondly, her prêt lines, are often few and far between.
The 38-year-old’s capsule collection titled Now, taking up rack space at Collage is one such instance. “I usually don’t showcase designs outside my studio in Delhi. But whenever I have, Chennai has worked really well for me. It has been one of my major markets,” says Swati, over a telephonic conversation as she takes a break from adding the final touches of her new luxury collection set to unveil within the fortnight
With one collection a year — comprising a mix of a few prêt garments and artistic pieces — solely focused on the Sujini embroidery of rural Bihar, this year has seen the NIFT graduate break new ground.
Dabbling with prints for the first time, Now sees the use of geometric hand blocks in combination with hand-painting in natural dyes. “So far, the highlight or focus of each of my designs has been to create one-of-a-kind embroidered, handcrafted pieces. But lately, I have increasingly felt the need to make something that is in the moment and hence the name of the collection. I have learnt that I don’t have to stick solely to craft that I have worked with thus far. This has presented me an opportunity to explore with other crafts.”
Offering a fresh interpretation to maximalism, Swati Kalsi’s oeuvre exists in her restrained use of colour that balances out the over-the-top use of surface techniques — in this case, block prints and hand embroidery. While sticking to a muted base colour palette of ivory, beige and black, the detailing employs hues like madder, mauve and grey, alongside rich metallic shades.
Exploring different natural fabrics for the season, the collection of 20 garments that comprises anti-fit silhouettes like reversible jackets, capes, trousers, kurtas and dresses are made from cotton-khadi, linen and ramie.
Refusing to be defined by a particular aesthetic, Swati Kalsi tells us her exploration of different craft forms has just begun. “Defining your style is very limiting. To make something that offers a unique perspective to the customer and also fits into your design vocabulary is difficult. Perhaps, that is why it has taken me a while to include prints, but there will be more,” she says, hinting that a spring line with florals might even be a possibility.
Rs 8,000. At Collage.