Banni, the Spring Summer 2020 collection of Tilla By Aratrik Dev Varman, is a nod to the crafts of Gujarat
The lockdown has been a period of self reflection for designer Aratrik Dev Varman of the label Tilla. He had just unveiled his Spring Summer 2020 collection, Banni, when he was forced to pull down the shutters of his store and studio in Ahmedabad. “We closed our store on March 18 and since then, I’ve had a lot of time to think — about the future, how our actions affect the earth and how my work is relevant to the world as things stand now,” begins Aratrik, a Tripura native, who grew up in Chennai and Kolkata. “In future, we need to really think about what is pertinent to our core value... are we doing a certain thing for an artistic high or because it’s good for business. This situation has made me realise that integrity trumps everything else,” he adds.
Tilla, translating to ‘hill’ in Hindi, is named after his ancestral home in Tripura. Aratrik, who studied textile design at National Institute of Design, launched the label in 2011, as a studio creating textiles for clothing and interiors. “I did a lot of work in the craft sector before setting up my own label. I started Tilla because I wanted to make textiles that were understated and elegant, using India’s rich source of weaving techniques,” he explains.
Banni is a celebration of Gujarat’s crafts, and employs Aratrik’s carefully curated collection of vintage embroidery patches from Kutch. “I’ve been collecting them for many years from different sources — dealers and antique collectors,” he reveals. The intricately detailed patches foreground the light and transparent fabrics the label is known for — handwoven mulmul, Chanderi, silk and organza. The silhouettes take cues from the traditional garments of Gujarat. For instance, a Rabari man’s kediyo top has been recreated using wispy organza in pristine white, with gentle frills at the waist. The stunning indigo-dyed bandhani kurtis, whose sheer sleeves are an artful representation of the stacked ivory bangles worn by married Rabari women are inspired by the inky blue night skies of Kutch. Aratrik also employs the silhouette of an abho, a panelled tunic which is a traditional garment of women of the Memon Jat community, to create contemporary festive wear with hand-drawn batik diamonds and badla work on madder red fabric. Heavily embroidered longline jackets, sheer longline coats, block-printed organza saris and zari trousers are other statement pieces from this collection.
With the vivid hues and stunning silhouettes of Banni still fresh on his mind, Aratrik feels, going forward, he will have to play it by ear. “When the lockdown is lifted, we will have to spend some time figuring out what the new trends are —what will people want to buy and how much — before we start working on a new collection. We will have to change our approach towards work,” Aratrik signs off.