Actress Arpita Chatterjee in four exclusive looks from Malika Dudeja Varma’s festive edit

We chat with Malika on the sidelines of the shoot about the Puja fashion, kantha’s fashion journey and more.

Sharmistha Ghosal Published :  13th October 2023 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  13th October 2023 12:00 AM
Malika Dudeja Varma, a designer inherited by her mother Shamlu Dudeja, is known for her exquisite kantha work, a staple in Bengali fashion

Actress Arpita Chatterjee in four exclusive looks from Malika Dudeja Varma’s festive edit

What better way to celebrate the pujas sartorially than wearing a piece that flaunts the exquisite and age-old kantha work of Bengal? And when it comes to kantha ensembles no one does it better than Malika Dudeja Varma, who inherited the design skills and aesthetics from her illustrious designer mum Shamlu Dudeja, a name synonymous with Bengal’s rich tapestry of kantha work.

Malika’s label She Kantha unveiled their Puja edit by creating four exclusive looks for Indulge adorned by none other than the very dignified and beautiful actress, singer, thespian and upcoming filmmaker Arpita Chatterjee.

We chat with Malika on the sidelines of the shoot about the Puja fashion, kantha’s fashion journey and more.

Tell us all about the outfits from your new festive occasion collection that you chose for Arpita?

I have come up with a whole new range of kantha on Benarasi for this festive season which offers a melange of silhouettes in vibrant colours.

The combination of Benarasi fabric with Kantha embroidery creates a textile masterpiece that exudes a striking contrast of textures adding depth and dimension to the fabric.

For this shoot, we specially created four festive ensembles for Arpita. There’s this elegant cream dress adorned with intricate beadwork, and paired with an exquisite Tussar Ashtasakhi-design dupatta, which creates a truly enchanting look.

The luxe tussar dupatta's design is a tribute to tradition and is a harmonious fusion of modern style and cultural heritage. The black Kantha panel patchwork skirt with patchwork design incorporates different patterns and motifs, making it visually captivating. The blazer-style shrug adds a modern twist to the ensemble with its structured silhouette striking a balance between classic and contemporary styles and the Kantha belt serves as a stylish accessory. We also thought of a red Kantha Warli design pair of trousers paired with a Kantha tunic and adorned with a georgette, airy shrug to create a vibrant and stylish look.

There’s also this stunning purple Tussar Kantha sari featuring traditional rural folk motifs along with a beautiful mandala design gracing the pallu. We paired this exquisite sari with a vibrant red Banarasi halter blouse for a striking visual impact.

A cream dress adorned with intricate beadwork, and paired with
a Tussar Ashtasakhi-design dupatta

What was the idea behind this collection?

The idea is deeply rooted in the rich heritage of Kantha embroidery, a traditional craft that has been an integral part of Bengal's culture for centuries. At its core, the collection is a tribute to the preservation of this age-old tradition. It seeks to honour the essence of Kantha, ensuring that its historical significance remains intact.

In this collection, we strive to strike a harmonious balance between tradition and contemporary aesthetics. While paying homage to the artistry of Kantha, we infuse modern design elements to create pieces that are not only culturally significant but also appeal to the sensibilities of today's generation. This fusion allows us to breathe new life into the traditional craft, making it relevant and engaging for a diverse audience.

Versatility is a key aspect of our design philosophy. We aim at offering a range of garments and accessories that can be seamlessly incorporated into various occasions and styles. Whether it's capes, shrugs, jackets, or sarees, our collection is designed to cater to the dynamic lifestyles of our customers, allowing them to express themselves with flair.

Also, empowering the Kantha artisans is a central goal of our work.

How have kantha designs evolved over the past few years?

Kantha art has experienced a noteworthy evolution in recent years, marked by design innovation, texture variations, a broader colour palette, contemporary influences, and the incorporation of mixed media.

Texture variations have played a significant role in Kantha's transformation. Contemporary Kantha explores diverse materials like silk, crepe, and georgette.

The colour palette has also evolved with contemporary Kantha embracing vibrant and bold shades. Mixed media techniques, combining embroidery with block printing, batik, digital printing, hand painting, and beadwork, have become popular, adding depth and dimension to Kantha pieces and making it more relevant.

What’s trending this festive season?

This festive season will see a blend of timeless elegance with modern experimentation. 

We are working on rich jewel tones like emerald green, sapphire blue, ruby red, and amethyst purple that will dominate festive fashion. These colours exude luxury and sophistication. Embellishments with gold and silver thread on kantha, add a touch of glamour and elegance to any outfit. Soft pastel shades such as blush pink, powder blue, and mint green offer a refreshing festive look.

The popular monochromatic looks with self-on-self embroidery create a streamlined and impactful appearance, always. Floral patterns are perennial favourites and our bold and intricate geometric designs are for those who prefer a modern look.

Luxurious fabrics like velvet and Benarasi are synonymous with festive elegance and Kantha work on them create absolute magic! Sparkling sequins, crystals, and intricate embellishments add a touch of glamour and drama.

A black kantha panel patchwork skirt paired with a blazer-style shrug

Sarees are undergoing a revival with unique drapes, pre-draped styles, and innovative blouse designs. These variations add excitement to the traditional saree. The timeless Anarkali silhouette continues to reign supreme, offering grace and fluidity.

Capes are an eternal favourite for their elegant and contemporary look besides trouser suits, wide-legged pants paired with kurtas or tops and classics like lehengas paired with crop tops, and off-shoulder blouses with asymmetrical hemlines.

How can one accessorise a kantha outfit without overdoing it?

Choosing accessories that complement the kantha outfit without overwhelming it is the key to a stunning look. Pair your kantha outfit with statement jewellery pieces. Chunky necklaces, bold earrings, or a stack of bangles can add a touch of glamour to your look. Cinch your kantha dress or tunic with a stylish belt. This not only adds definition to your silhouette but also creates an interesting contrast with the embroidered fabric. Depending on the occasion, wear sandals, heels, or boots to match the vibe of your kantha outfit.

The festive wardrobe must-haves this year?

A woman's festive wardrobe should reflect her personal style and comfort preferences.

Saris offer timeless elegance, with options in various fabrics and designs. Indo-Western ensembles provide a modern twist to traditional wear, offering comfort and fashion-forward choices. A beautifully embellished or embroidered dupatta adds sophistication to various outfits. Complementing these are statement jewellery pieces, festive footwear, clutch or potli bags, and makeup/hair accessories. Blouse styles diversify saree looks, while suits and lehengas are perfect for grand celebrations.

A red Kantha Warli design pair of trousers paired with a Kantha tunic
and adorned with a georgette, airy shrug

Price on request. On shekantha.com

CREDITS: Pics: Debarshi Sarkar / Hair and makeup: Aniruddha Chakladar / Styling: Poulami Gupta / Jewellery courtesy: Runway Hit and Dazzling Danglers by Ruchi / Location courtesy: The Glenburn Penthouse

Actress Arpita Chatterjee gives a lowdown on her Puja fashion and work

How will u spend your pujas this time?

Since I stay mostly in Delhi now for work, there’s no week-long celebration and I'll be working during the first few days of Puja. But wherever I am, I wouldn't miss Ashtami Anjali and I'd definitely grab some bhog!

What are you buying for Puja?

Planning to buy some silver accessories and a few Bengal handloom outfits.

Your puja fashion choices?

I love to wear saris, especially light cotton ones if I’m working, and light silks for evening get-togethers.

Daily fashion choices?

Comfortable clothes, mostly trousers, tops, seasonal jackets, and nice comfortable cotton dresses.

A purple Tussar Kantha sari featuring traditional rural folk motifs along with
a beautiful mandala design gracing the pallu

Accessories?

They have to be classic and dainty -- mostly earrings and dainty watches.

Preferred makeup and hairstyles?

With my short haircut, nothing much can be done apart from blow dry. As far as makeup is concerned, I keep it the same whether at work or weddings. If I’m not shooting, I don’t like putting on makeup. I diligently take care of my skin, so that I can go out with just moisturizer and lipstick.

Occasion wear wardrobe must-haves?

A good set of classy traditional handwoven saris in cotton and silk, and a few classic dresses in simple silhouettes.

Style tips for readers.

Create your own style, follow your body type and personality, and dress accordingly, don’t follow trends blindly.

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