Suhani Pittie talks about her fascination for medieval art and paying an ode to Sun God

When she designed a collection called ‘Grunge Begum’ a few seasons ago, those who knew Suhani Pittie understood that she was the Begum, living the life of a modernist and at the same time imbibing the essence of the 200-year-old Pittie mansion in Begum Bazaar. Combining traditional and modern sensibilities has been her forte and with her new collection, Dances With The Earth, Suhani goes a notch higher.

“I have been researching parallel lifestyles or tribal lifestyles for a year and a half. When I started reading, I didn’t know it would all lead to a jewellery collection,” Suhani says, speaking to us a day after showcasing her work at Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2013.

Suhani uses motifs of the rising sun, chakra, sun rays and the moon in earrings, neckpieces, arm bands, circular bangles, anklets and pendants. “The tribals, be it Aborigines in Australia, Dongrias in Orissa or the Navajos in America are in sync with the earth and comfortable in their old world set up. They worship the tree and are not hungry for a better lifestyle. Their dance forms are circular and there’s a reason behind the colours they use and the jewellery they wear,” says Suhani.

Using copper, one of the first metals used by humans, she dedicates this collection to the spirit of the tribals living in tune with Nature. Dances With The Earth has circular bangles with leaves, sun and moon patterns; anklets with leaves; multiple chakra motifs on pendants; earrings and cord cuff with the rising sun motif; peacock earrings; armbands with sun and moon patterns and the bird crown cord bracelet among other pieces. All of these in some way represent the ‘circle of life’.

Eight months of research on tribal jewellery were followed by three months of production at her workshop, involving 100 to 120 craftsmen. “A new girl in the factory, impressed by the surface ornamentation way we were working on the pieces, asked me how long the show would be. She was surprised when I told her the duration of our show at Fashion Week would be only 5 min 45 seconds,” laughs Suhani.

The last few years have seen Suhani grow from strength to strength. She figured in the World Gold Council’s list of top 10 most inventive and ingenious jewellery designers of the world and was the only Indian jewellery designer to showcase her work at the Miami Fashion Week. With her new collection, she seems to be taking the next step in experimentation. “As a designer, I feel I’ve matured with this collection. There’s a lot of depth and we are proud of the textures on the surface,” says Suhani.