Desi girl

A model in Anuradha Vakil’s creations. Photo: Special Arrangement  

“I enjoy standing near Panagal Park and watching women excitedly walking in and out of the many sari stores in the area. The mallipoo in their hair, the glinting mookuthi, the big bright kumkum pottu…I draw from such cultural images when I sit down to design,” says Anuradha Vakil. Any wonder then that culture is the leitmotif of her work and reality not an overrated virtue of her design.

This well-known Ahmedabad-based designer has been regularly showing her collections in the city for over a decade. “I am delighted to have found a following here,” she says, talking about how fulfilling it is when people understand and appreciate what goes into these creations. Her latest line of saris and salwar suits is currently on display at Amethyst.

Her high-on-Indian aesthetic outfits may be perfect for the festive season, but for Anuradha it’s celebration through the year. She constantly creates outfits that are a joyous mix of Indian craftsmanship and flattering new-age patterns. “For the past two decades I have been exploring our craft heritage, researching on how best to translate them on to fabrics and keep discovering ways of making them appealing to the contemporary wearers,” says the Masters in Business Administration-turned- designer.

It’s her inherent love for crafts that drew her into designing. And luckily for her, she comes from a state that abounds in them. She was pained to see many of the master craftsmen living a life of penury. “Their children had given up the family tradition to find jobs elsewhere. And I made it my life’s mission to do my bit to revive these crafts and make them part of the modern fashion scenario,” says Anuradha, whose celebrity clientele includes Shabana Azmi, Rani Mukherjee and Sonam Kapoor among others.

“There is this 84-year-old master-craftsman, a President’s medal winner, who had been working with me. He has six sons, five of whom have left home in search of a livelihood. I managed to convince the youngest to pursue his father’s rare craft. He agreed, half-heartedly though. Today he is happy he did so because his work has brought him enough accolades and money.”

Anuradha has many such heartwarming stories to tell. It’s helped her come up with something cool and desirable from the familiar. “But more importantly, with each creation I return to my core value. My clothes are not just for showing. They are to be worn and loved,” she points out.

Anuradha is thrilled that classic fabrics and embellishments have redefined the Indian style scene and are adorning global ramps too.“But a one-off creation will not help. It calls for a sustained effort and long-term commitment,” says the designer, who despite commercial pressures, refuses to look beyond our borders for inspiration.

“I have designs only on my country,” she laughs.

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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 8:31:27 AM |

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