Chennai designer Nanditha Ramesh launches her summer collection, complete with chic, co-ordinated masks
Co-ord sets have never been the go-to style for Nanditha Ramesh. In fact, the Chennai-based designer has remained as far removed from the trend as possible — working into her collections separates and ensembles created with contrasting hues or prints. But like most others within the fraternity, the lockdown offered her the chance to rethink the design directives of her label Merasal. And thus began her experiments with what is fast becoming fashion’s new trendy accessory — protective masks (that were made just to match her outfit of the day). “Recently, after the new lockdown rules came into effect, I decided to visit a couple of friends and wore a mask that was made from the same material as my top. As soon as I posted the picture on Instagram, I started receiving calls and messages from clients asking for masks created to match their outfits,” shares the 35-year-old, who is now launching her summer capsule collection — complete with co-ordinated face masks.
Directed at a slightly traditional audience that loves ethnic wear, the brand has, in the past, dabbled with handpainted kalamkari motifs, indigo tie-and-dye and other block prints. Expanding her repertoire, while following in the same vein, the summer collection introduces floral prints and ajrakh patterns that are speckled with bits of light hand embroidery. My clientele is largely made up of women who prefer longer hemlines, and silhouettes that are easy and free-flowing.” Navigating within this framework, the line includes fusion staples like dresses, jackets, kurta dresses, pants, blouses, saris and dupattas that are elevated by the designers use of patchwork, dramatic multi-hued layering, colourful tassels, asymmetric hems and exciting detailing around the necklines.
While the collection features an all-natural textile palette like cotton, linen, khadi and bits of Assam silk, the handmade face masks that are part of the line are not just made from scrap fabrics, but also bring chiffon into the mix. “A recent study conducted by the University of Chicago showed that one layer of cotton along with two layers of chiffon had the highest filtration efficiency. In keeping with these guidelines, all the masks are three-layered,” says the former student of The London College of Fashion.
Now, if co-ordinated protective mask sets are not your flavour, Merasal also offers custom options on bespoke orders. We learn that zardosi and sequin-embellished masks to match wedding trousseaus and ones embroidered with the wearer’s name are among the most popular requests.
Ensemble sets start at `4,500 onwards.