One of the great things about a country like ours, known for its vibrancy and diversity, is that each state has its unique cultural identity. And what better way to express identity than with fashion!
Indian fabrics and embroidery techniques are known worldwide. They don’t only frequent in wedding runways and feature in Indian designers like Sabyasachi, Manish Malhotra, but are also a favourite of many international designer houses like Gucci, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, etc. From Kashmir to Kanchipuram here are a few of our favourite Indian handicrafts in fashion from across our country.
With more than four centuries of presence in fashion, the chickankari finds its origin in Lucknow, Maharastra. The word ‘chikan’ quite literally means ‘embroidery,’ and is synonymous with elegance. The original chikan work was done on Muslin or sheer cotton cloth with white thread. But with time, it has seen its variations. In recent times, it took the spotlight at Gaurav Gupta’s Summer Resort Lakme fashion show this year. The collection featured dresses, pantsuits, sari gowns, lehengas, and evening dress with hand-embroidered chikankari. Our favourite has to be the resplendent looking powder blue gown worn by the show opener, Tabu. The gown had intricate chikankari worked on it and bought the right amount of glamour and drama to the opening of LFW.
Best pick: Lehengas, kurtha and shara pant set
Kashimiri Tilla embroideries:
The valleys of Kashmir are a muse to many designers. What fashion borrows more than once from this place are its famous handmade textile techniques. Tilla embroidery is ornamental work essentially done in gold or silver thread embroidery. It is one of the most prevalent forms of embroidery in Kashmir. It is done on the traditional Kashmiri garment called Phiran and is usually used to design the lower neck, cuffs and lower border of the garment. It is popular among royalties and is considered an asset as it ages like an artefact and is usually passed on for generations.
Best pick: Shawl, kurta
These golden weaves find their origin in the Kanchipuram region of Tamil Nadu, India. This classic shared its fair share of the limelight with actress Kangana Ranaut, who chose to take Kanjeevaram to The Cannes Festival this year. Kangana opted for a custom-made gold Kanjeevaram silk saree paired with an embellished gold corset blouse and a peplum belt to the red carpet. The shimmering saree was from designer Madhurya Creations. A genuine Kanchi silk saree is hand woven with pure silk, gold and silver threads.
Best Pick: Saree
The Aari embroidery is frequent in the runways, especially in wedding couture. The delicate intricate thread work is famous in Gujarat. A pen-like crochet needle is used to give rise to this intricate artwork. In this type of embroidery beads and ‘muthia’, a sharp-edged needle is put to work, which creatively gives rise to chain stitch kind of imprints. This work is popular for its delicate and fine threadwork which enhances the essence of hand embroidery. This embroidery has also made its Hollywood debut when two artisans from Gujarat used the technique to decorate the gown Emma Watson wore in the movie Beauty and the Beast as Princess Belle.
Best Pick: Skirt
Bandhej, also known as Bandhani, is a tie and dye technique practiced mainly in states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. One among the favourites of designer Sabyasachi, his label has a number of Bandhani wedding lehenga, skirts, and ethnic frocks. The oldest form of dyeing Bandhani involves dyeing the fabric which is tightly tied with a thread or seed at several places to produce different patterns.
Best pick: Dupatta, ethnic frocks
Applique (khatwa) work
If you are a fan of grand gestures, an appliqué lehenga is your closet must-have. Just scroll through the collections of designers like Falguni and Shane, and Rohit Bal you will see the description chrome appliqué. This is a modern take to the century-old technique from Bihar. Khatwa is the local name for applique in Bihar. This traditional cloth weaving technique involves applying one fabric on to another to make beautiful patterns and motifs.
Best pick: Skirts, shara pants, lehenga