Revival Kanjeevaram label Kanakavalli opens its doors in the city

Unsual motifs and refreshing colour stories mark the collections

Rashmi Rajagopal Lobo Published :  22nd September 2017 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  22nd September 2017 12:00 AM

At Ahalya Sakthivel’s studio, pale green rubs shoulders with aubergine purple and peach finds itself juxtaposed with a lovely sandalwood shade. The melding of these beautiful hues is made all the more entrancing with tastefully designed motifs such as deer, horses and flowers. This selection of colours and refined motifs is rather unusual for Kanjeevarams, which mostly stick to deep reds and various shades of green and motifs that not very often stray away from paisleys and peacocks. It’s this refreshing take on the coveted Kanjeevaram silk saris that Ahalya brings to Bengaluru in the form of a brick and mortar store at Langford Town. “I’ve been holding pop-ups in Bengaluru for four years now. I come so often, that I thought it would make a lot of sense to set up a standalone store here,” says Ahalya, who started 
Kanakavalli in 2014, with an aim to revive old, forgotten motifs and bring a contemporary colour story to the ancient craft.

Piece of history
The Saanchi boutique, an antiques store which is housed in a charming Portuguese-style villa, will also now hold Kanakavalli’s exquisite collections. Spread across 2,000 square feet, the store in keeping with Ahalya’s other branches in Chennai and Coimbatore, is illuminated by lots of natural light. “Silk looks different under different lights. So it’s best to buy during the day and only after you see it in natural light,” explains the Chennai-based revivalist and designer. 

The Vault, Ahalya’s pride and joy, is a collection that will be widely showcased at the Bengaluru store. “These are revival saris that are crafted in the most authentic way and to exacting standards. The Vault is special because for this collection, coloured threads were added within the zari. It is a very time- consuming process but adds character to the sari,” reveals Ahalya. And while the peacock motif is used by most brands and designers, Ahalya’s rendition is unique and compact. The man kuthurai, or mud horses that traditionally flank the entrance to Hindu temples, is another motif that Kanakavalli has reworked. “Usually the motifs are designed to stand in a row, but we have designed the sari such that the horses are facing each other,” she shares. 

After setting up her first store outside of Tamil Nadu, Ahalya plans to scout for locations in Hyderabad and Mumbai next. 

Rs.8,000 upwards. At Setlur Street, Langford Town. Details: