Ahalya’s Paduka showcases a collection of saris that reflects her passion for homespun weaves and a design vocabulary that smacks of classicism
No elaborately-done show windows. No sylph-like mannequins. The massive floor-to-ceiling windows at the new Paduka store in Alwarpet allow a seamless integration of spaces — the verdant outdoors and a fuss-free interior. The design and the décor whisper Paduka’s steadfast commitment to simplicity. For designer Ahalya, simplicity spells timelessness.
Having worked with jewellery and textiles for close to a decade, Ahalya now curates fresh collections of silk and cotton saris for Paduka. “It hurts me to see people ignore our beautiful traditional weaves. I wanted to put them all together in a relaxed ambience where the client can take time, appreciate the textiles and make discerning choices,” she says, displaying a range of saris from wooden cupboards that have an old-world charm.
The designer, who has already left her imprint on the style scene in Chennai with Rasvihar, Sarangi and Paduka in Nungambakkam, says the new Paduka is part of her efforts to promote saris that speak the language of tradition. “I want people to have a certain cultural memory — everything that’s traditional is getting wiped out gradually,” she says, picking out some deep-toned ikat saris from the racks. “It’s double ikat — a pretty complicated technique.”
Mangalgiri with unusual ornate thread work, cotton Paithani, Bhagalpur silk, Kota, Kanchi cotton, Chettinad cotton, muga silk and kora silk are on display. “We are in the process of adding our own twists to Venkatagiri and Gadwal weaves. We will be working with weavers in the southern states in a sustained way. Thankfully, there are still enough sari patrons in the South. Paduka is not about occasion wear, here are saris that you can simply wear and enjoy without much fuss. Besides, homespun textiles have an everlasting appeal.”
To make the store appealing to a younger clientele, Ahalya has put together a collection of stoles, scarves and hand-picked swatches for blouses. That’s not all. There’s also a fine collection of oxidised silver jewellery from the Sarasas label. “These are not the type you get in Bangkok. Each has a story to tell. The pieces have been handcrafted and reflect the finer points of ethnic jewellery traditions.”
Paduka is located at 138, Luz Church Road.