Fashion Rahul Mishra pays an ode to Pochampally, giving a new spin to the ancient art while staying true to its ethos. Sangeetha Devi Dundoo reports

A nippy evening, the best of models from the city, the Taj Falaknuma Palace as the backdrop… the setting was perfect. What made the evening come alive was designer Rahul Mishra's collection in Pochampally. Through this line created for Taj Khazana, Rahul used silk and cotton and tried to recreate the richness and feel of the Hans-Atlas fabric — a multi-hued hand woven and hand dyed ikat fabric that was in vogue in Central Asia in the early 19th century. The collection featured saris, structured coats, dresses, tops, flowy skirts, wraps and kaftans. As the silhouette varied from Indian to western, it was his use of Pochampally that defined the collection.

“Ikat is a celebration of colour. The craft is a rage this season, both nationally and internationally. I could have easily made 10 lehengas and sold them since this is the wedding season. But I've always been drawn by traditional weaves and crafts. In this collection, I wanted ikat to lead the way. And this is just the beginning of my tryst with ikat,” a beaming Rahul Mishra told us in an interview post the show.

He worked with the artisans for nearly six months, researched the craft and says, “One is used to seeing traditional geometric patterns in Pochampally. But we used motifs like leaves, flowers, buds and peacocks.

The use of flowers on white fabric looks so subtle and beautiful but required the highest degree of skill from the weavers. Ikat involves so much detailing in the yarn.” Rahul's interest in crafts harks back to his humble beginnings. Born in Malhausi village near Kanpur, he did his bachelors degree in Physics from the Kanpur University before doing his masters at the National Institute of Design. He won the student of the year award at NID, which earned him a scholarship to Istituto Marangoni, Milan. The exposure opened his world to European fashion but Rahul found his calling in Indian weaves. “I started my journey with Kerala weaves, including the set mundu, and then worked on Banarasi, Maheshwari and Chanderi collections. It's a pan-Indian journey,” he smiles.

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