Ekaya Banaras’ Spring Summer '22 collection Ambush reinterprets Shikargah motifs for modern palates

It features animal prints replicated though kadwa, tanchoi and cutwork techniques
Ekaya Banaras’ Spring Summer '22 collection Ambush reinterprets Shikargah motifs for modern palates

For Spring Summer ’22, Palak Shah of Ekaya Banaras trains her eye on the traditional craft of Shikargah — a set of designs which features motifs such as deer, lions and elephants that one would find while on a hunt in the jungle. However, as with every Ekaya collection, this one too sets itself apart thanks to its refreshingly new take on ancient techniques. “In the past, we’ve worked with traditional techniques like chikankari and Parsi gara and added our own unique spin to them. I felt that there’s been minimal creativity and reinvention when it comes to Shikargah, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to experiment with it,” says Palak.

Titled Ambush, the collection comprises saris, lehengas, blouses, skirts and dupattas. While the conventional motifs have been placed in new and interesting ways, such as on scalloped borders and paired with geometric shapes, what truly makes it stand out is the replication of animal prints in Banarasi kadwa, cutwork and tanchoi. “Our aim was to keep the old Shikargah patterns alive but we have also used animal print-shaped motifs (that is, prints inspired by animal skin / hide),” explains Delhi-based Palak. There are zebra stripes, leopard prints, snake skin and tiger stripes. None of them are actually printed but created through the Banarasi handwoven techniques. And that’s not all. Palak seeks to challenge the accepted ways in which one wears saris and lehengas, hence in the campaign, some of the saris are styled with a slit, some are worn with stockings and opera-length gloves, the pallu is stylised as a scarf, while lehengas are paired with bodysuits. 

Aside from the saris and lehengas, some of the other pieces from the collection that are worth a mention are a peekaboo blouse with criss-crossing straps at the chest, cropped blazers and panelled skirts. “Our colour story revolves around hues that are apt for evening wear and cocktails, and that complement animal skin patterns. We do have a lot of yellows, reds and oranges but we have tried to make it more modern by also using a global colour palette, which includes rust, black, indigo, garnet and blush pink,” she shares. 

The collection has been in the works for close to a year and Palak is glad it’s now seeing the light of day. “Ambush has been in the making for almost a year. We wanted to launch it in December or January but had to postpone it because of Covid-19. Covid has posed the biggest challenge for us because it made it difficult to get the collection ready on time and get the weavers to deliver it on time. However, I’m happy it’s finally here,” she says, signing off. 

Rs.35,000 upwards. Available online

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