Raw Mango’s new collection explores the chikankari technique
DESIGNER Sanjay Garg may have conquered the world of Indian fashion with his refreshing take on handloom Benarasi, Mashru and Chanderi fabrics, but for the first time, he goes minimal and understated with his new collection Cloud People, which explores the chikankari craft of Lucknow. A collection that he has been working on for close to two years, the line was presented earlier this week at Lakme Fashion Week Winter Festive. He tells us more...
Give us a peek into the collection.
Cloud People invokes a celestial spell, bringing winged messengers and unearthly spirits — mythical symbols of hope and guardianship. Through the supernatural, they embody our ambitions of flight and transcendence. Requiring close appreciation, minute collection details reveal soft feathers and scalloped clouds of angels in flight, made through handcrafted chikankari on Bengal mul, zardozi and handwoven brocade.
What was the reason behind working with chikankari?
Originating in the Awadh region, chikankari is thought to consist of approximately 36 stitches which create works of relief, shadow and drawn thread. Its limited use as a decorative element and as daraz — a joinery of two separate pieces of cloth — can be both functional and decorative. The collection re-interprets this embroidery, which traditionally features florals and paisley motifs with a vocabulary that explores new renditions.
Tell us about your work with the local chikankari artisans.
I’m not new to embroidery but new to chikankari. Working with artisans is always a brilliant working experience. We are talking about people who have been working with this embroidery for generations. Embroidery to me is like second skin. There will be brocade for sure this time. However, what I have felt over the years is that fashion is often partial to weavers and embroiderers don’t get their due. I’m of the belief that artisans are artisans. Period. Never before have I been motivated to work on a specific technique or material since our design stems from an idea, be it interiors or embroidery. Today, the brand works with nearly 500 weavers in clusters across the country on a variety of fabrics including mash-ru, Benarasi and Kolkata silk among other heritage fabrics.
What was the inspiration for the collection?
Chikankari is always synonymous with paisley and you will see a lot in our collection. It’s about exploring embroidery over fabrics and working with something that you have seen and converting it into something like never before. I’m inspired by nature and my motifs, you’ll notice, are based on it.
Tell us about the fabrics you love working with.
For me, textiles are not only about handloom. At Raw Mango, we have always explored varieties of fabrics — silk, cotton, chiffon etc. Our collections have spoken about India as a route of inspiration. Be it mashru or Chanderi, we have used it all. I also believe that a sari is a garment that can be worn in multiple ways.
What are the other craft techniques that you would love to explore?
I have a constant love affair with Chanderi but at the same time, I really like mashru, which I would say is one of the most luxurious fabrics in the world. It is designed and worn by the royals. I want to do something new every year. I am yet to work on my best thoughts.
What are the other projects you are working on at the moment?
I am always working on designing something and thinking of ‘what next’, given our design process, it takes years to materialise.
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