FASHION City- based textile designer Sreejith Jeevan pays an ode to Karkidakam with his debut collection

The romance of rainy skies— sweeping gray expanses, black clouds, tumescent white raindrops— the wet month of Karkidakam has inspired artistes in more ways than one. Young, city-based textile designer Sreejith Jeevan has reached out to his Malayali roots and derived inspiration from the unique season of Karkidakam for his debut collection ‘Weather Forecast’ to be showcased at David Hall on December 6 and 7. “Let me see summer my way,” he says about his Spring /Summer 2014 collection and presents his palette of black, white, grey with accents of purple and blues in the Indo-Western ensemble of tunics, kurtas, dresses and pants.

Yoking sensibilities

An alumnus of Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Vaduthala, Sreejith graduated from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and did a brief stint at the Ecole Nationale Superieure Des Arts Decoratifs, Paris. He assisted renowned designer Rajesh Pratap Singh in 2010 and subsequently freelanced with companies doing block prints and traditional crafts. The 27-year-old taught print and woven textiles at NID before launching his design firm Rouka. Rouka, which means bodice in Malayalam and corridor in Japanese, attempts to yoke different streams of design. “Ä product has to have a story and it needs to be meaningful to a person who is making it and the one who is using it,” says Sreejith.

Rain is the story of this collection but it does not cease to be just a rainy day story scripted by him. In a wonderful exercise of exchanging ideas, Sreejith innovatively sourced his embroiders from the city by placing an advertisement in the paper. He was flooded by responses, “75 of them replied” and he shortlisted 10 homemakers. They then went into a brainstorming conversation about a rainy day. From playing cards to watching rain sitting on a window sill to umbrellas and drops of rain — the images and ideas that came up were translated on to the clothes. “I find fun in the whole process of doing things together,” says Sreejith.

For him the three elements in a garment are fabric, surface ornamentation and trims. For the fabric he sourced handlooms and South Cotton; for embellishments he had his embroiderers do rain related motifs; and for trims he went in for wooden buttons made by the differently-abled children of Snehanilayam. He was impressed by the carpentry unit of Snehanilayam at a recently held Abilities Mela. And together with these inputs Sreejith collated a collection which takes in aesthetics from the community. “People think of Khadi or handloom as a rebate material but it is a product made by hand. People should appreciate handloom for the survival of a skill,” he adds. For him the message is as important as the product.

Weather Forecast is contemporary and fun couture with elements of humour. Buttoned collars open out into flaps with sneaking rain motifs, a rain washed ambassador car on a trouser pocket brings in the quaint streak and tunic borders become wet roads with cyclists on them, rain drops fall pitter-patter on to a dress yoke….

In style with the theme the collection will be hung from the roof symbolic of falling raindrops. “Ït is the whole Karkidakam effect,” says Sreejith and has sent out paper boat invitations to be floated in a water bath at the venue.

Currently Sreejith works out from his studio at Valanjambalam. The price of the garments in this collection, aimed at the “modern, eclectic” woman, begin at Rs. 1800.

The exhibition timings are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

PRIYADERSHINI S.

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