Rahul Mishra has made massive strides in the style world in less than eight years of launching his eponymous label. The young Mumbai-based designer who was named by French style guru Didier Grumbach as the “Talent to watch out for” is now being shortlisted for the International Woolmark Prize that will be announced at the Milan Fashion Week next month. Despite working without respite on fresh techniques and treatments to make wool superfine for a collection that might win him a prize of 50,000 AUD, Mishra takes some time off to visit Chennai where he is launching his new line Sunehri today. In an interview, he speaks about taking couture back to the looms and creating light-weight woven saris and lehengas that are modern, yet reminiscent of the past, when textiles stood out for the craft quotient rather than the bling factor. Excerpts:

Old and beautiful

“Sunehri”, like all my collections is an ode to Indian handlooms. I was going through old wedding photographs at home and realised how in the past, couture was about creating wonders with weaves, and not about kilos of Bollywood-inspired bling! So I decided to do something special with traditional weaves by creating a light-weight line that reflects our textile tradition and at the same time suits the sensibility of our global women. I’ve tried different techniques on textiles such as Chanderi. “Sunehri” is about golden memories.

In full bloom

Since it’s couture created for the festive-wedding season, this line celebrates colour. For a change, I’ve put my subdued palette behind to experiment with effervescent tones. The floral motifs I’ve used too lend themselves well to this fresh colour scheme. I enjoyed the process of dyeing yarns and trying out different combinations.

Tradition as template

Indian weaves are close to my heart. I’m evolving as a designer every day. The richness and intricacy of our woven tradition pushes me to create. Every craft is an institution by itself, there’s a lot to learn in terms of history, technique and discipline. The beauty of tradition lies in the way it thrives and is updated to suit changing tastes, and not in being relegated to museums. Most of my collections are into their second or third edition. I’m doing my bit to sustain the weaving community by tweaking tradition and finding an appreciative clientele for it.

Wool's worth

I still can’t believe that someone from this part of the global fashion map has been shortlisted for the International Woolmark Prize – something that was won by the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld! From the work “go” my aim was to upgrade craftsmanship on wool. And I’ve been working relentlessly on that for over a month, trying out various techniques to make it an all-weather fabric. I’ve tried Bandini on wool, and yes, my signature Buddhist-inspired lotus motifs will be there. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed!

(Rahul Mishra will be at Evoluzione today to unveil Sunehri)