Fabric with soul

There’s a matchless charm and elegance to organic fabrics, says Chennai-based designer Neesha Amrish who is showing her line of clothes made of ahimsa silk at the ongoing Hong Kong Fashion Week

January 20, 2015 08:16 pm | Updated 08:16 pm IST

Neesha Amrish's design.  Photo: Special arrangement

Neesha Amrish's design. Photo: Special arrangement

They call it guilt-free fabric that is more than just a style statement. Shouldn’t fashion be about getting people to look and feel good? Though a few celebrities such as Kate Middleton, Anne Hathaway and Suzy Amis Cameron have been spotted wearing such fabric, not often does it get to walk international fashion ramps. This year though, the Hong Kong Fashion Week for Fall Winter 2015 (January 19 - 22) is in for such a sight, thanks to Chennai-based designer Neesha Amrish, who is showing her naturally coloured, organically grown, and handmade ahimsa silk (silk obtained without killing silk worms) at this fashion fete. Hong Kong Fashion Week is called the ‘World Boutique’ as it draws top designers and brands from over 88 countries across the world.

“In India, fashion fetes are more about page 3 photo-ops and Bollywood, but this fete is serious fashion business and caters to niche markets. So, I am truly excited,” says Neesha. She adds, “When I applied, describing my fabric lines, they told me that this was the first time they came across such fabric.”  

Handmade all the way from farm to loom to the printing table, Neesha’s designs are unique, because such extensive hand-making of fabric makes duplications impossible. Neesha also lets her clients customise the colour and print of her fabric. “After all, colour is who we are, and I present it in handloom,” says Neesha, who has designed limited edition lines under her label Aeshaane for Victoria & Albert Museum and for the annual Who’s Next exposition in Paris, 2012 onwards.

For the Hong Kong fete, Neesha has created a line that is awash with bright, vibrant and free-spirited colours, and an understated collection with subtle ‘deep jewel’ tones and rich oil-paint canvas colours. The silhouettes are fluid, ranging from the flimsy to the sturdy, and the cut is very ‘lounge’ and ‘resto’. “Ahimsa-organic silk has loads of texture and character regular silk cannot match, and its fall and drape is graceful too. Handmade fabric has a soul to it and there develops a bond between the fabric and the wearer,” says Neesha. She will shortly bring out a line in organic cotton.

These days, there is a buzz around organic fabric. “But going organic is a process, not a status. I reproduce it in fabric,” Neesha observes. This designer not only procures organic ahimsa silk fibres; she uses Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) approved dyes, relies on hand-block printing, and packages and labels her fabric in organic and environment-friendly material. Lately, even the fabric that gets snipped away at her studio as wastage has been going into making funky fabric jewellery. “I sometimes add temple jewellery to it, or a kunjalam as a tie-up — the sky is the limit to designing with fabric,” she adds. Our Khadi and Village Industries Commission came up with ahimsa silk long back — long before international pundits woke up to the idea. But it didn’t catch on, perhaps because it lacked a visible platform and vibrant designers.  Perhaps, designers like Neesha will soon bridge the gap.

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