Abha Dalmia showcases her retro-inspired saris and jewellery harking back to the Mughal and Victorian era

It’s time for women in Bangalore to shop for luxurious traditional saris designed by the ‘Queen of Indian couture’, Abha Dalmia. Playing with the six-yard marvel for years, Abha Dalmia has bridged the gap between traditional Indian crafts and contemporary fashion.

Talking about her unique designs, Abha says: “They are all traditional designs on a contemporary palette – modern colours, different fabrics and threads are mixed together to form something new,”

Her collection speaks of reviving the retro look by modifying the attire with a present-day feel with zari, sequins and semi-precious stones as embellishments. Being highly influenced by the South and parts of Gujarat, the Delhi-based designer has meticulously revived the traditional Indian art of weaving and embroidery. She has concentrated especially on the Banarasi silks. The silks are coloured in muted shades of greens, maroons, pinks, greys.

The rich textures have pretty floral designs, badla work, and zari as embellishments. Banarasi silk saris and ghagras are designed with the dying “kali” art. Most of her outfits are made at her own loom. She uses fabrics that are a mix of brocade with tanchoi or georgette with jute. Georgettes are chemically processed from silk for the desired effect.

The bridal outfits for the season are designed with an eye for detail. The borders are highly concentrated with heavy zardozi work and the rest of the sari is designed with heavy embellishments.

Her party wear saris portray hunting scenes of yore, referred to as “Shikarga”. During her extensive travel, she often visits museums and has an eye for rare and beautiful designs. French, Japanese and Thai designs are often incorporated in the weaves of Banarasi silk.

Keeping the Bangalore climate in mind, Abha advices Bangaloreans to pick up katan saris (light weighted silk). Abha votes for the sari when she says: “I believe wearing a sari is the most becoming and graceful attire even today. It is an evergreen outfit and creates an eternal charm. Wearing a sari with confidence and carrying it with pride is the best way to enhance the beauty of the sari.”

Since childhood, Abha was fascinated with fabric and jewellery designing. Being brought up in the royal family, she learnt the art of using royal Jaipur fabrics that can be matched with gorgeous Mughal jewellery which are designed with gold, stones and semi precious stones. She has also created fun jewellery with a blend of antique and modern designs.

For example, she has designed a neck piece that consists of a leather rope with a big natural stone as a pendant with small semi precious stones and beads. The jewellery collection ranges from the Mughal and Victorian to the Colonial eras. Bringing the retro look back in fashion, she has resurrected Indian designs that were blooming during the British era when Indian royalty became the biggest clients for reputed European jewellers like Cartier, Harry Winston and Van Cleef.

Such artistic style is once again regaining its space in the jewellery market. Keeping young and sensitive individuals in mind who want to wear eye catching smart pieces that blends well with their indo-western attires and lifestyle. Abha’s jewellery collection features kundan, crystal, semi-precious, leather, silver and gold with a little of east and west designs.

Abha’s revival sari collection ‘07 and jewellery will be showcased at ffolio (No 1, Embassy Chambers, 5, Vittal Mallya Road, ph: 22218142/43) till July 18.

LATIKA R. CHUGANEY

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