Textile designer Sanjay Garg's “The Song of the Sparrow” celebrates the classy weaves of Chanderi

Imagine a flock of plump, stubby-beaked sparrows woven intricately in mute gold and grey on the pallu of a rani pink sari. Or motifs of the gregarious birds with the subtle shades of their plumage on the border of a stark black sari… Well, these are just two of the stunning Chanderi creations by New Delhi-based textile designer Sanjay Garg, who is currently showcasing his work at Amethyst, Royapettah (on till June 25).

Known for his steadfast romance with the centuries-old weaving tradition, Garg's new line opens another window to the limitless possibilities of the ethnic Chanderi weave. After using merino wool and inlay weaving techniques, Garg experiments with diaphanous silks this time round and comes up with a chirpy line that bears his signature simple-yet-striking look. “It's part of my effort to update Chanderi to suit the tastes of women on the move. I think the best way to make women opt for saris is by giving them something that not just looks and feels great, but also drapes beautifully.”

The ex-NIFT-ian's fascination with our woven tradition started during his tryst with Shades of India, the home linen label that showcases Indian ethnic textiles abroad. “I always wondered why the best was going outside the country and not appreciated here. It was the beginning of my journey.”

Launched in 2008, Raw Mango, Garg's label, has attracted the cognoscenti for its wispy feel and amazing palette. Not the type to push for participation in the fashion weeks, circulate in New Delhi's Page 3 circuit or bow to Bollywood's swish set, Garg is hesitant to even speak of his client list that includes Arundhati Roy, Shabana Azmi and Renuka Chowdary. “Whatever publicity I've got so far is only through word of mouth,” says the designer who has won the Best Designer award from the Textile Ministry. Not resting on his laurels, Garg rises to the creative challenge of reinventing the Chanderi with every line. The subtle sheen and light-as-a-whisper feel of his silks in “The Song of the Sparrow” are proof of his relentless effort to refine the fabric. Though the bird motifs are delicately woven employing the Eknaliya technique, Garg prefers to use them judiciously to avoid a cluttered look. “I want the sheerness of the fabric to stand out,” he says. Another individualistic feature of Raw Mango is its colour story. While charcoal romances rani pink, black teams with resplendent red, royal purple woos sulphate blue and chocolate dates parrot green. “I've called it ‘The Song of the Sparrow', but this line is a tribute to all the common birds we seldom see these days in busy metropolises. Birds are synonymous with cheeriness and colour.”

Garg hopes to extend his experiment to silks from Varanasi as well. “I think a woman's wardrobe is incomplete without them. I've already started work on updating the classic,” he smiles.

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Krithika ReddyMay 11, 2012