Trending in fashion: Varanasi Weaves

Veteran fashion designer, Ritu Kumar, presented Varanasi Weaves at the Lakme Fashion Week Winter Festive 2015 on India Textile Day held last week in Mumbai, in continuation with her revivalist project

Veteran fashion designer, Ritu Kumar, presented Varanasi Weaves at the Lakme Fashion Week Winter Festive 2015 on India Textile Day held last week in Mumbai, in continuation with her revivalist projects that center around the traditional crafts and textiles of India.

Ritu Kumar’s collection titled “VARANASI WEAVES” is woven in four parts. It is a departure of what is classically reflected when Benaras or the holy city of Kashi is mentioned.

The collection began with the gossamer White on White line, highlighted with gold, in sheer and opaque threads woven in the main fabric, requiring meticulous cut work by women of the region. This is both an interpretation of one of India’s most coveted aesthetic that is White on White in gossamer weaves.

The next part of the collection was of Saris rewoven to make them soft as butter, clinging and more sensuous than what has come of the looms of Benaras after a long time. The drape has been reintroduced along with the subtle gold and moga thread weaving which make the saris wearable and attractive for the young, with an aim of getting the newer generation looking to own one such sari as part of their wardrobe, not necessarily for bridal wear only.

Varanasi also weaves for the monasteries of the Himalayas, this silk route was done on ponies where Lampas weaves, a highly sophisticated, ancient and highly rare technique of weaving is still done for the Buddhist monasteries of the regions of Ladakh, Bhutan, Sikkim and Tibet. These are religious fabrics now made into loose coats to give the look of one of the most skilled weaves of the world.

The last part of the show, was conceived and executed with weaves developed as part of the CSR programme of the Ritu Kumar team, to reintroduce in woven from Benaras the subtle and deep understanding of drape, colour and technique of weaving to produce highly glamorous looks, which are India’s couture and the city’s USP, as it is the country’s heritage.

Actor, Aditi Rao Hydari, was the showstopper for the show, dressed in an unconvetional drape with gold leggings and topi.. Noted names from the film industry, Shabana Azmi, Dia Mirza, Ria Sen, Amrita Puri, Mandira Bedi and Gul Panag were seen in the front row

The collection is a bridge between what is now available in Varanasi, and what it could move into in a move to go back to an authentic, vintage and classically sophisticated repertoire. More important it is an effort not to lose as the rest of the world has, its legitimate legacy of the handloom, one that the world has lost to mechanized mass produced products.

“The aim of this show is to bring the fabulous tradition of gold and silver weaving in Benaras, back into the mainstream flow of fashion. The old holy city is not only the most ancient of old cities, the weaves of Banaras are the only surviving textiles in the world, where the skills of the master weavers create handlooms which are a true statement of the bespoke garment. These weaves and textiles are the most haute couture of all with a strong aesthetic statement of ‘Make in India’. Benaras weaves are almost like a monument worth preserving like no other, in the world” says Ritu Kumar.

The Ritu Kumar boutique at BurJuman Shopping Centre in Dubai is stocked with all three lines from the brand namely Ri Ritu Kumar (Indian festive and occasion wear), Ritu Kumar (Classic ethnic wear) and Label Ritu Kumar (Global contemporary fashion clothing).

Ritu Kumar is one of India’s foremost designers credited with being the first one to have revived ancient Indian crafts interpreting them into contemporary vocabulary. Her unique understanding and innovative use of traditional designs has created a new classicism. She was awarded the Padma Shri Award 2013, the country’s fourth highest civilian award for her exceptional and distinguished service in the field of fashion, textile and craftsmanship.

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Linda Hohnholz

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