Couturier Sunita Shanker’s latest edit celebrates upcycled silhouettes from repurposed temple saris

The collection is a medley of colours, textures, prints and integrated crafts
Silhouettes from the edit
Silhouettes from the edit

Delhi-based designer, Sunita Shanker, is back in the city with her latest seasonal edit, her Autumn-Winter ’22 collection, Autumn Potpourri. The collection is a medley of colours, textures, prints and integrated crafts, including signature bandhani, running stitches, pin tucks along with embroideries and prints. Blending style and crafts seamlessly and reaffirming the brand’s ideology of handmade, the collection comprises flexible single styles that can be teamed by the wearer as desired.

Focusing on upcycled silhouettes, the collection primarily consists of repurposed silk saris collected before and during the lockdown from temples across South and East India. We catch up with the couturier to find out more about the collection. 

“My collections are always an ongoing process, they always run into each other, but what’s specific about the collection that I’m sending to Chennai is that we’ve added a lot of kantha pieces into the curation. These pieces were basically silk saris collected from temples across South and East India, mostly kanjivarams sans borders that are usually sold exclusively for use in temples to be draped around a deity. Once their purpose is served, the saris are usually wasted and since they cannot be thrown away — as they have been used to adorn the deity — they serve no real purpose and so I decided to purchase a lot of them just before and during the pandemic and I’m still finding ways to repurpose or upcycle them,” begins Sunita. 

“The process is a long one. First we have to bring back the sheen to the silk and so we dye it again. Then we give it for kantha and that was a blessing in disguise for us, because it kept the artisan community occupied during the lockdown when work was scarce. Therefore, these collections of mine, involving these upcycled saris have to be small edits as the volume of work produced under these conditions cannot be large, especially because we really need to give each of these pieces a lot of attention,” the designer adds. 

Focusing on jackets, overgarments, kimonos, shirts, tops, jumpsuits, dresses, tunics and trousers in red, burgundy, berry, carmine, forest green, midnight green, dark blue, Prussian blue and black — Autumn Potpourri limits its 65+ silhouettes to silks, cotton silks and chanderis.

“Nobody wants to touch old fabric. Even the artisans didn’t want to work on old saris and needed some convincing. But I wanted to use all this amazing fabric I collected. Our work with bandhani always continues and so, you will also see a lot of bandhani work in black, white and red in this collection too, but the focus will shift to kantha, with some pieces also featuring machine embroidered motifs which just helps to enhance the piece,” Sunita concludes.

`6,000 onwards. November 25 to 30. 11 am to 7.30 pm. At Amethyst.

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