Pakistani designer Noorjehan Bilgrami’s line is an exquisite demonstration of a shared Indo-Pak textile heritage
Imprints of familiar crafts create delicate patterns of a shared Indo-Pak textile heritage — hand block-prints, khadi work, touches of Ari embroidery, zardozi, tarkashi and tie-and-dye on cotton, muslin, and silk kurta, dupatta and churidar. Find them all at Pakistani designer and creator Noorjehan Bilgrami’s Koel Collection, on display in the city.
Noorjehan is a well known artist in her country “and a textile designer afterwards” as she avers modestly, although her other avatars as craft revivalist, craft writer, documentary filmmaker and natural dye expert have gained critical acclaim in Pakistan and elsewhere.
In her design line, Bilgrami’s artistic sensibilities, eye for embellishment and detailing come together in an elegant, understated couture line.
Off-white and other shades of white, the drama of blue tones and black and neutral grey in Kora cotton, muslin and silk, form the basic canvas of her straight-cut kurtas with elegant silhouettes.
Over these and her collection of dupattas, the artist-designer scatters khadi work motifs of fine, jewel-like flowers and delicate amris or kairis, thread work and a touch of lace. An ethereal range of white kurtas in fields of geometrically placed silver, gold and white florets and kairis make statements. Dramatic black kurtas display fields of golden khadi flowers and red-block printed kameezes are her “salute to the vibrant colours of India”.
Then there are the fusion kurtas, statements in blue that fuse the anchal of a sari with the kurta in an extension of its hemline. These dupattas are block-printed and embroidered with motifs inspired by the blue tiles of the Uch Sharif Sufi tombs of Multan.
A variety of cotton dupattas in which Bilgrami plays around with blocks, metallic silver embellishment and tie-and-dye are also on display. Once again the familiar is interposed with the subtly different. When will she bring her Ajrakh and natural-dye line to Chennai? “I learnt the many stages of Ajrakh from Ismail Bhai Khatri of Bhuj and natural dyes from my guru Chandramauoli,” says Noorjehan. “Hopefully, I’ll bring those creations to India soon.” It’s another experience of shared textile heritage we look forward to...
The Koel Collection is on view at Amethyst, Whites Road, Royapettah, till January 25.