Shanti Banaras' new flagship store in Mehrauli offers an eclectic range of real zari Benarasi weaves
Shanti Banaras' Khushi Shah tells us that it takes more than 24 hours to weave a metre of pure zari weave
Growing up in Varanasi, the oldest city in the country, Khushi Shah was always interested in the rich history and culture of the town and hailing from a family that deals with textiles, it was natural for her to fall in love with the classic Benarasi weaves.
“People from all over the world come here to buy Benarasi saris, especially as a part of their wedding trousseau. But most of them are not aware of or enquire about pure zari Benarasi weaves. That led me to think of promoting the pure zari weaves that also have an equally rich history and heritage. We wanted to come up with a store that gives easy access to real zari and let the patrons experience Varanasi’s craft mastery,” tells Khushi, whose newly opened flagship store Shanti Banaras in Delhi’s Mehrauli showcases a brand new exquisite collection of pure zari Benarasi weaves.
“At times when most of the labels are going digital, I decided to open another flagship store in Delhi because I wanted an intimate interaction with my customers and explain to them in person the elaborate and intricate technique of weaving with pure zari. It’s a painstakingly lengthy process,-- a weaver can weave around only a meter in a day’s time -- and each sari is actually a work of art,” tells Khushi, who runs Shanti, a retail store in Varanasi for the past three years with his brother Amrit Shah.
In the latest collection of pure zari weaves, Khushi has employed brocade weaves that fall well. There are also exquisite Jangla saris made out of kadwa weaves with motifs that have a 3D feel to them. All the saris have 24K gold-plated or pure silver zari weaves. Besides, there are handcrafted lehengas with elaborate Pichwai work all over the body. The collection comes in a vivid and dreamy palette comprising classic vibrant shades. For men, there are hand-embroidered jamewar shawls and the range will soon include handcrafted sherwanis in its fold.
“None of our clothing is powerloom-made. Each outfit is handmade from the scratch including the yarn. We haven’t put up the high-end real zari saris on our website since they are yet not copyrighted,” informs Shah.
Each of the designs has been conceptualised by Shah and all of them have a story to tell. A lot of traditional motifs like palanquins and Parisian flowers have been employed in the designs keeping the younger generation in mind. “The designs are classy yet modern so that the young millennial brides can carry the look as proudly as they swish their Louis Vitton bags,” she adds.
The lehengas have interesting spiels too. “One of the lehengas, for instance, has two different landscapes, day and night, with conversations taking place between Krishna and Radha. I draw inspiration from anything and everything be it architecture, books or carpets, it’s an amalgamation of different things,” reflects Shah.
To further add to her rich variety of collections, Shah is now working on a summer collection that would include lighter stuff in softer colours and nice contrasts in cotton and organza.
Price of real zari weaves starts at Rs 1.5 lakh. At Mehrauli’s flagship store and shantibanaras.com.