Passing by Anuradha Ramam gives a contemporary edge to traditional crafts
A nuradha Ramam loves a splash of colours. Look beyond the vibrant colours and you'll notice designs rooted in tradition and yet contemporary enough for young women to flaunt them on campuses, workplaces and evening dos.
“I come across young women who think saris are cumbersome. I use hand woven silks and cottons but make them softer. The malleability makes the sari easier to drape and ensures a good fall,” Anuradha explains showing us whole six yards of raw silk with discharge prints. The silk has gone through a steaming process for seven hours to make it softer. “The fabric's longevity is not compromised upon. It can outlast human beings. The steaming makes the colours fast,” she declares with a smile. The check pattern runs through the sari in different colours for pleats, pallu and the body. The design made heads turn when the sari was modelled by Nayonika Chatterjee recently.
New Delhi-based Anuradha Ramam is familiar with Hyderabad, for a large part of her work centres on ikats. She supports weavers in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. “The challenge is to see that the young generation of weavers doesn't move away from the craft. Young weavers are willing to work in factories for a hike as little as Rs. 50,” says Anuradha, who supports more than 350 women weavers in Bengal.
Anuradha's discharge dye prints and embroideries using kantha and kutch work are a hit with Hyderabadis when she brings her collection for exhibitions conducted by the Crafts Council of AP.
Actress Kirron Kher and television producer Radhika Roy are among her celebrity clients and it comes as a surprise when Anuradha discloses that she wasn't trained in fashion designing. She did her masters in English literature and B.Ed at St. Xaviers, Kolkata. “I was inclined towards arts as a child but my parents thought otherwise. Until recently, arts wasn't considered lucrative enough to earn a livelihood. After a stint in teaching, I moved to designing,” she recalls.
Her own flair for painting helped. She took her designs to weavers who were willing to incorporate them on fabric. Growing up in Bengal, she was adept with Bengal's traditional crafts. “My husband hails from Andhra Pradesh and inter caste marriages are common in my family. That gave me further exposure to different crafts,” she says, referring to the way she marries kantha work with kutch embroidery. “There is no system to my design. I break all the rules but the result is stunning,” she laughs. She mentions with pride that her recent collection was described as “traffic stopping” by fashion critics.
SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO