Seasoned designer Anju Modi comes to Chennai with “Draupadi”, a couture collection that’s a spin-off from the costumes she created for Ram-Leela

To Anju Modi, design is all about striking a balance between timelessness and timeliness. “When I work on a collection, I make sure my clothes resonate with culture. My references are usually traditional themes and textiles. I update the look with an individualistic re-interpretation of weaves, silhouettes and colour schemes,” says the New Delhi-based designer.

In Chennai to showcase her new collection “Draupadi”, Modi explains why she prefers to take the classic route. “We have such a rich legacy of crafts. Hand-woven textiles take craftsmen hours to accomplish. I want today’s generation to appreciate the beauty and intricacy of hand skills. It’s a huge creative challenge to tweak traditional textiles to suit contemporary tastes.”

Famous for weaving engaging narratives through her lines, Modi’s “Draupadi” is no different. “I’ve tried to tell Draupadi’s story through three distinct sequences. The first depicts the royal aura of her existence and marriage to the Pandavas, the second revolves around the game of dice and the third capsules her devotion to Lord Krishna. Each is different in terms of texture, colour and motif.

“Ironically, the Draupadi theme occurred to me when I was working on the costumes for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram-Leela. To me, Draupadi is an embodiment of strength and gentleness. I see a lot of positive energy in this mythological character. The line begins on a rich note of crimson and moves to charcoal, ochre, ivory and deep Krishna blue. The emotions running through Draupadi are narrated through colour stories.”

Talking about her tryst with films, Modi, who is currently discussing a couple of other Bollywood projects, says, “Films take a lot of time, but I enjoy doing them. There’s plenty of scope to create something so different from what we do for the ramp or our retail business. Besides, directors do respect designers’ inputs and give us total creative freedom. For instance, in the Holi festivities scene in Ram-Leela, I gave Deepika a red-on-red ensemble with just streaks of white instead of a predictable all-white outfit. We did some interesting negative-positive tie-and-dye for the layered lehenga.”

Interestingly, Modi had used soft mulmul for the ensembles in Ram-Leela. “Draupadi being an extension of the line, I perfected it further.” So the mulmuls actually feel like barely-there chiffon! “It’s a different count and I’ve made them as light and wispy as possible. I’m not a net or chiffon person. Change in weave construction and tribal motifs for which I travelled to interior Gujarat make this collection unique.”

Having been in the business of fashion for the past 25 years, Modi, also a founding member of the Fashion Design Council of India, believes consumers have to be educated about the richness of our traditional textiles so that they find continued patronage. “We have a handcraft-based textile tradition. That’s our core strength, our USP. If people want mill-made fabrics let them go to China. We must strengthen our heritage and return to our roots. And yes, it’s possible to do that without compromising on the style quotient!”

Draupadi will be unveiled by Anju Modi at Evoluzione, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, today, at 11 a.m.