The fashion industry has been gradually giving Indian weaves its due in the last few years and unknowingly, Shilpa Reddy realised that she was being drawn towards ethnic textiles. “There has been a shift in my thought process. Each time I came across collections that use handlooms and listened to the craftsmanship and the man hours that went into put it all together, I felt overwhelmed,” she says.
Shilpa felt the need to approach fashion with a sense of responsibility. “We can’t be using synthetics forever and burning the planet down. I wanted to be a responsible designer,” she adds.
Taking that thought ahead, for her recent line ‘Gold fragrance of the raw feminine’, showcased at the India Fashion Week, Dubai edition, she used unbleached, coarse Chanderi cotton to create saris, palazzo pants, anarkalis, jackets and shawls. “I think I will focus on weaves from different parts of the country for my forthcoming collections. For this line, the inspiration came from the off white and gold sari worn by women in Kerala. There’s something pure and untouched about that sari,” she says.
Shilpa designed 16 outfits, some of them in whites and others in deep red, leaf green and gulaal pink. “The focus was on the traditional side to the modern Indian woman, who embraces her sexuality and doesn’t feel the need to compare with anything masculine. I wanted to highlight South Indian sensibilities in an international forum,” she explains. The models walked the ramp without footwear as Hindustani alaap and Indian fusion music reverberated in the background. For accessories, Shilpa dipped into traditional jewellery — arm bands, sun and moon motifs adorned by brides and dancers, and waist bands.
Chanderi fabric came with its own challenges. “The fabric falls in a certain way; I had to give a double lining and tweak it so that it would take the required silhouette. At first, I wasn’t sure if the Chanderi fabric would support heavy embroidery in saris but it did,” she says.
The uneven finish of the unbleached fabric, she mentions, added to the appeal of the garments.
Shilpa doubled up as her own show stopper in a red and gold dhoti-inspired sari. Her line includes saris, long tops and structured bustiers.
This was the first edition of the India Fashion Week in Dubai and Shilpa has returned surprised by the awe and respect Indian fashion elicits in UAE. “There is a huge amount of respect for Indian weaves and Bollywood fashion is very popular. People in Dubai look up to Indian designers and fashion,” she says.