The quintessential Indian sari is an eternal masterpiece. Adorned by women of the subcontinent, the 6 yards come in a never-ending array of colours and textiles, and who better to talk to about it than the ‘Master of Weaves’ himself!
Gaurang Shah has earned this reputation in the Indian fashion fraternity, and will be giving Dubai a glimpse into his fascinating world on 17th September at the Opera Ballroom – Taj Dubai.
I had the honor of chatting with Gaurang right before his Dubai debut. Humble as he is creative, Gaurang gave me many interesting insights into the world of Indian fashion.
Please tell us how you fell in love with the fashion trade, especially the quintessential Indian sari .
My love for sari began at the age of 8. I was fascinated by the 6-yard fabric ever since I saw my mom draping it in a classic fashion, one after another. I grew up watching them adored by women and fly off the shelves at my father store when I used to visit the store after my school. Later it turned into a vision. My goal was to bring back traditional Indian sari back into vogue by introducing new twists in patterns, color using the Jamdani weaving technique which I am fond of.
I just can’t think of anything more inventive than the sari. It is a matchless and an iconic Indian fashion piece that has been adored by women through centuries. Just imagine the possibilities it gives to a textile designer like me to showcase ethnic weaves from seven different states for each of my collections with fantastic fusion like the Patola from Patan, bandhini from Kutch, Korvai weaves from Kanchipuram, Benaras from uttar pradesh, Paithani from maharastra, khadi from andhra pradesh and silks like matka and tussar , I can just go on and on.
As a designer I like doing things differently rather than doing different things. For me only ‘Sari’ satisfies my creative hunger every time I wake up in the morning to decide what next I should create to make my women clientele walk with immense pride and glory.
India has a rich history of weaving. Please elaborate on this. How does it differ per region?
Every region is known for its artistry and weaving technique. Each of the regions also has a distinctive taste and appeal when it comes to traditional textiles. Like Kanchi in South, Patan in west, muslin in east, silk from the north
India is known for its traditional craftsmanship and hand woven embroidery techniques that are specific to different parts of the country (Chanderi weaves: Madhya Pradesh; Paithani: West India etc). The beauty of Indian Textiles is that it still survives the renditions of modern technologies such as digital prints, machine made designs and fabrics. The significant changes over the years are the Indian crafts and designs have become a modern rage and a pride wearable across all age groups.
Traditional Indian weaving techniques like Kalamkari, Zari work etc are also quite prominent in India. Since the Indian society is still deeply rooted in traditions and customs and values handlooms are becoming part of our fashion lifestyle and that’s what is heartening.
Which forms of Indian weaves are you most inclined to using in your collections, and why?
I love the Jamdani weave. We support more than 600+ handlooms across India in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh etc, specially engaged in a weaving technique called “jamdani”. Jamdani, a discontinuous extra weft technique of weaving takes no help from machinery. A hand drawn artwork design is kept under the warp in the loom, and is replicated by the weaver to the finest details. It is almost like parsi embroidery done on the loom. The intricacy of a design which was hitherto possible only in print and embroidery has been materialized into weaves
You are reinvented the traditional sari! Please tell us how the way the sari is being worn is changing.
Saree is the most beautiful creation ever introduced in women’s fashion textiles world. It has an unparalleled legacy and reflects our heritage and culture in a gorgeous way. It is also the most versatile fashion piece and you can wear it in so many different ways and style.
To a designer like me , its timeless, inventive and enables endless-experiments, unseen designs, intricacies, textures, colors and fusion possibilities. Did you ever imagine how creative one could get with Sari -“For some saris we’ve used khadi by khadi, in others we’ve tried khadi and muga, khadi and organza. We’ve tried combinations in textures for the motifs as well. One floral pattern may use dupion silk and another, cotton
Is the love for the traditional sari weaning off? How is your collection helping with its revival?
Absolutely, no. The love for sari will be eternal. It will be one of the most sought after attire for brides in India. Imagine a traditional social occasion in India; you will spot more sari than any other fashion piece.
Our innovations like the big border, texture and fusion of textiles have revived the fading vigour for sari. In my collections my clients wait for them to arrive from loom and be the first one to grab it.
Quite recently we re-invented the one of my favorite sari draping style of Maharani Chimnabai of Baroda’s signature Nauvari drape, with a long jacket blouse. On the other hand a sari draped like a gown, reminiscent of the style attributed to Suniti Devi, Maharani of Cooch Bihar brought lot of admiration to my recent fashion week CALICO collection.
You have won a number of accolades for your gorgeous creations, and been a part of many a fashion show. Which of these have meant the most to you as a designer?
Every show excites me as much as my collections that come from weave and makes way to the ramp. What makes me feel elated is the moment when I find women wearing my collection with elan and absolute confidence. To top it, I love to hear from them about its impact.
Many celebrities have been seen in your creations! Which celebrity have you had the most fun dressing up?
Every celeb carries a distinctive personality and appeal. What I love the most is that they have carried handloom creation beautifully like Kirron Kher and Vidya Balan have done for my sari and fashion icon like Sonam Kapoor has breathed life into my outfit collections. The younger generation stars like Taapsee, Kajal Aggarwal also motivates designer like me to keep innovating.
If a girl is to build on a worthy trousseau of besotted saris, what would be your advice? Which kinds should she definitely get her hands on?
If she has a personal opinion about her style and occasion she choose to shop for a sari then it is absolutely easy. Because, we have sari that match every special occasion you choose to wear them. Every piece is a classic, owing to the fact that you choose to wear it in absolute confidence.
A lasting investment would be in a Jamdani weave tree of life, or a traditional double ikat patan patola. If she has a personal opinion about her style and occasion and decides to shop for a sari then it is absolutely easy to pick a piece from our collection.
You are showcasing ‘Shringar’, a special collection for the festive season. Please tell us more about this. What can we look forward to seeing here?
An eclectic range of textiles from around the India are incorporated for the modern day bride in varied silhouettes like lehengas, anarkalis, kurtas, ghararas and heritage sarees. Gaurang’s signature woven treasures in kanjeevaram, paithani, patan patola, kota, Benarasi are taken a notch higher in cross-border techniques, motifs and textures. Our new collections interprets a gamut of tie-dye techniques like shibori, clamp dying, bandhani, leheriya and block prints like ajrakh and dabu; to accentuate the intricate weaves.
Where can we buy your gorgeous creations?
From our brand GAURANG stores in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkatta and VAYA in Mumbai. We will soon be available in Dubai , London and US.
Gaurang’s Solo Show
Date : 17th September 2016
Venue : Opera Ballroom, Taj Hotel – Dubai
Fashion Show – 11am to 12pm (By Invitation Only)
Exhibition – 12pm to 8pm