“Textiles were my first love,” says an effervescent Julie Kagti as she walks through her well-travelled collection, ‘The Sari Trunk Show'. The saris, salwars, kurtis and scarves on the racks are a heady mix of the old, the new and the ingenious, just as she intends them to be.
“My clothes are contemporary, aesthetic, and infused with a sense of humour,” she writes on her Facebook page. As my eyes search for those clothes with a sense of humour, I spot a mannequin wearing a creation characteristic of Julie's design sensibilities — a leaf-green sari appliquéd with auto rickshaws in contrast colours. Ask about why she feels the need for humour, and she says, “We are influenced so much by the West that we need a little of ‘us' in our clothes. And humor is the best way to do it.”
The collection comprising saris, stoles, scarves, kurtis and salwars come in vibrant oranges, pinks, rich greens, reds and whites. With classic and unfussy cuts, her clothes grow on you. She says that she uses traditional techniques such as kantha work on cotton tussar and the use of Indian motifs such as autos and lemons and chillies on scarves to create a contemporary line of controls.
Julie, who spent her childhood in Assam, says that she fell in love with clothes and textiles at the age of eight when she learnt weaving from her grandmother. “When I was young, a lot of weavers from all over the country came home, and that was how I was introduced to so many fabrics. There were weavers from far-off lands such as Kancheepuram, Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh and Kabul, and each one had a story to tell. It was very inspiring,” she recalls.
Today, she runs Sutra in Bangalore where an in-house team of weavers and artisans takes around eight months to work on a collection. “All our clothes are handcrafted,” she says. And, since she decided to start out on her own 10 years ago, working with women was always on her mind. “We recently had a three-month training workshop for unskilled women from rural Karnataka,” she says.
Does she have any plans to diversify into jewellery and accessories? “I just want to make clothes and make them well.”
(Sutra's range on display at Amethyst till September 12.All her clothes are priced Rs. 2,400 upwards.)