When textile junkie Anamika Khanna and top-notch jeweller Amrapali came together for a fashion show at Evoluzione, it was sheer magic. As ruby-lipped, waif-waist models and half-a-dozen women from Chennai's swish circuit hit the catwalk, fashion seemed to walk the tightrope between utility and chic. Anamika wowed the crowd with her delicately-textured whites and off-whites. The separates had an air of versatility about them, and could define different moods or occasions. Amrapali's line of intricately-crafted jewellery combined design elements from the past and the present. The wispy layers of fabric and solidness of the neck adornments resulted in an attention-grabbing chemistry.
There's a certain restraint about the creations of Kolkata-based designer Anamika Khanna. It's reflected in her use of fabric, colour and embellishment. “Subtlety is my watchword. I prefer the muted, understated look. My garments are versatile; they can be teamed any which way to make individualistic statements. The idea is to take it easy, and have fun. I've also stuck to my idea of giving a fresh spin to traditional silhouettes,” says the designer in a cool white dhoti-kaftan combo. The designer whose career steamrolled ahead after she won a string of awards, including the Damania Fashion Award and Texcellence Award, had no formal training in design. “But it helped. I made mistakes, and was open to experiments since I didn't have any fixed ideas. The creative pay-offs are here to see — watch out for my new ‘sequined textile'. Growing up in craft-rich Rajasthan and later Kolkata helped shape my aesthetic. I think I've managed to explore design and textiles, and create my own space, instead of falling in the rut!”
A template tweaked
For over three decades, Amrapali from Jaipur has been a big draw among style connoisseurs across the country. Though ethnic is its forte, the jewellery house has tweaked its template to suit changing tastes. Today, their gold creations, encrusted with a burst of colourful precious stones, have a sure modern appeal. Amrapali was started by Rajiv Arora and Rajesh Ajmera, who were actually jewellery collectors. It began as a small cottage industry, but today enjoys a good retail presence in India and abroad. “We plan to open a silver jewellery and artefacts museum in Jaipur soon. My dad and uncle have a large collection,” discloses Amrapali's Tarang Arora, who studied gemology in the U.K. Incidentally, Tarang sports an ethnic silver kada with a makra motif from Himachal Pradesh. “After the initial success with silver, the company took on gold in a big way. What you see here is a heavily-encrusted trousseau line. Our designers draw inspiration from ethnic traditions across the globe. We are trying out some funky stuff too. As a design person, I keep a close watch on handbag trends to zero in on jewellery fads. Yes, handbag dictates jewellery trends! Big bags are in — so is chunky jewellery.”