Anavila Misra wants saris to become an everyday garment

Inspired by functional drapes women wear to work in fields or while fishing, Anavila Misra collaborates with craft clusters in Bengal and Gujarat to inspire urban Indians to include saris in their daily wardrobe

Anavila Misra is a crusader for the sari.

She wants it to become an everyday garment. But no, she will not create ready-to-wear saris. “It’s taking away from the whole garment itself. The idea is to take the five- and-a-half metre and create something with that. Otherwise it’s like a ready-made outfit,” says the designer who was in the city for the launch of her new line First Blush at Good Earth.

The line has been designed for the upcoming festive season, which begins with Rakhshabandhan next week. “It’s also for brides who want to move to comfort clothing and want pieces that are not too embellished. That’s what we are trying to address through this collection,” she says.

There are saris, blouses, tunics with tapered salwars, skirts and dupattas in soft feminine hues of pink, peach, blush, ochre, red, green and cinnamon. Other than zari embellishments, the designer has used silver and gold zari in the weaving itself to create patterns that are subtle yet dressy. The result: shimmering metallic silhouettes that work well with vintage suit blouses as well as edgy corsets. “Whenever we present a collection on the ramp, we make the drapes look easy and chic, so people think ‘I can wear it too’,” says the sari revivalist.

Anavila Misra wants saris to become an everyday garment

It’s about breaking norms. It’s a stunning language that you can create for yourself, she believes. She adds that what fascinates her the most about the sari is the various ways it’s draped in different part of India: such as the functional drapes that women wear in the fields or while fishing. How the same textile can take myriad roles in different villages is amazing. This aspect of functionality is what she has been attempting to bring to the city. “Modern women in cities have lesser of a challenge than women in the fields. The only challenge is in the perception that people have,” she smiles.

Her love for saris started when she first wore one as a five-year-old, for a fancy dress competition at school. The first she bought herself was 19 years ago. It was a cardamom green brocade silk, bought with her first salary while working as a menswear designer in Bengaluru for Madura Garments. “I still have it and still wear it,” says the designer who is known to champion the cause of slow fashion and sustainability.

Around 90 % of First Blush is made of linen; the rest is silk and zari. Anavila says she’s started wearing more linen since she started working with it. “When I started my label in 2012, I wanted to create a modern sari. I didn’t feel like I was creating something new with cotton. With linen I felt I could create a new vocabulary for the garment,” she says, adding, “It’s a comfortable fabric and we have woven it in a way that it doesn’t crush like a linen shirt.”

Anavila works with craft clusters in Bhuj and other parts of Gujarat and Bengal. There is no lack of skill set there. Over the last decade, there has been more engagement at the cluster level. The areas have been opened up to modern design languages and they make more beautiful work now, she says.

“Initially it was us telling them what we want, but in the last eight to nine years, they have begun to understand the desire of the brands and now we create together. I go with my mood board and together we decide the various permutations and combinations,” she smiles.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 5:09:14 AM |

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