Urvashi Kaur’s latest collection is inspired by her mother Anupama Singh’s paintings and her interaction with far-flung tribes the world over

A bright and sunny February afternoon is the perfect setting for a visit to a Chhattarpur farmhouse. Especially if one’s destination is home to an intriguing combination: painting and fashion designing.

Anupama Singh and Urvashi Kaur, painter and designer, mother and daughter respectively, brought together their works in a pleasing and surprisingly homogeneous display of creative expression as the designer daughter unveiled her latest collection to patrons and visitors alike.

In terms of colours and even texturing, the paintings and garments seemed to have a fair bit in common. The entire arrangement of them together imparted a rustic, earthy vibe at first glance. Urvashi pointed out that the paintings, mostly portraits, were intended to depict the struggles and the sense of displacement among the urban poor as well as their hope of someday finding the better future that they have come to the city in search of. “I’ve been inspired by my mother’s paintings throughout my life and my clothes and her art have an organic relationship, almost. Here, for example, these paintings and my work are a lot about layers. A lot of my mother’s art talks about there being layers to a personality and her paintings as well as my clothes depict this layering through textures,” she says.

Ask Urvashi about what inspired this collection other than her mother’s art and her reply explains the bohemian, almost nomadic touch to many of the loose dresses, tunics, jackets, flared pants, djellabas and Moroccan salwars on display, along with the accessories that shine out with a generous use of metal and even the beaded scarves: “I have travelled a lot across the country and abroad, and have often lived in these really far flung places where there are a lot of tribes I’ve had a chance to observe. But more than any other place, this collection in particular is inspired by the city of Fes in Morocco. Going there was a real eye-opener for me because I found that there is so much that we share in terms of culture, food and clothes with the West Asian and even North African belts! I’ve felt ever since my last few years of schooling in Algeria – and here I’m talking clothes alone – that a lot of the silhouettes in India seem almost directly derived from there. The kurta, for instance, seems to me to have come from the djellabas I saw in Morocco and Turkey.”

To what she has absorbed through her travels Urvashi has added elements of the ethnic Indian, using metal work and Indian handlooms such as mulmul, chanderi and linen silks. The shapes are loose and the colours earthy and easy on the eye such as amber yellows, forest greens and sky greys and the entire collection seems to make for comfortable, luxurious and chic wear.