Pashmina is posh again

DIVERSE INTERPRETATION: A model sporting a tie and dye shawl on Pashmina created by Shruti Sancheti

DIVERSE INTERPRETATION: A model sporting a tie and dye shawl on Pashmina created by Shruti Sancheti   | Photo Credit: 08dmcShruti1

This winter, the fine wool from hilly climes is being used to fashion light and wearable shawls

A decade ago, shawls were seen as heirlooms that were worn only on momentous social occasions. They’ve got a stylish makeover now as everyday wear rather than as a protective layering in cold wintry weather.

Texturally too, shawls have changed to become less shimmery and are not as heavily decorated with embroidery as before. From heavy hand-woven shawls like the Kullu variety, they have become almost wafer-thin in their modern update. The lighter look has made shawls more popular with young wearers.

Pashmina wool (‘soft gold’ in Kashmiri), has now become an easily accessible product. The wool itself is sourced from four distinct breeds of the Cashmere goat commonly found in Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Nepal and parts of Pakistan. Pashmina mufflers, stoles, and shawls are all part of the modern middle class wardrobe these days.

Bridging the gap

Pashmina is posh again

The popularity of these shawls can be seen from the fact Jaypore, an online brand, recently curated a pop-up at its outlet at Garden of Five Senses in Delhi, where the star of the show was the Kani Pashmina shawl. Made by weaving coloured yarn wound on small wooden sticks called Kani that serve as the weft, they are made to pass through the warp as per a written code.

“Right from the full-scale coded drawing of the design, called a talim, made by the naqqash to meticulously recording the pattern for further designs, a Kani shawl is so complicated, that it can take up to a year for two weavers working together. The motifs and colours in these shawls are inspired by the Chinar tree,” says Radhika Chhabra, Head of Clothing and Accessories at Jaypore.

Shruti Sancheti’s upcoming collection of Pashmina shawls will be unveiled at Who’s Next in Paris. She has given an international look for the discerning fashion lovers in the West.

Sancheti says: “In Paris, I will showcase Pashmina as a lightweight and luxury accessory which can be worn according to the season.” Trying to show its versatility, Sancheti will draping Pashmina wear in different styles on her models. “Using lace with wool makes for a more dressy shawl since it gives a dash of feminine detail and touch of elegance. Metallic fibres such as lurex give a metallic shine, and make it ideal for evening wear.”

Natural colours

As a designer, Sonal Verma believes that she has the power to narrate a beautifully woven narrative through Pashmina. “New embroidery has changed the look and feel of the traditional shawl. The traditional heavy borders have been replaced with geometric motifs or contemporary patterns like embroidered bugs,” says Verma.

Verma uses a blend of Pashmina that ranges from 12 to 15 microns. “Whenever I can, I stock up on these shawls in natural colours. And then add value by surface ornamentation in leather.”

She also uses wool, silk and cotton thread embroidery to create fast fashion pieces. “Many silhouettes are being experimented with shawls. There are asymmetrical shawls, jacket shawls, overlapping shawls, stole sizes also turned into ponchos, and a Kimono-style open shawl. We do a blend of silk and wool, wool silk and lurex,” says Verma.

But there are still fashion industry stalwarts who want to resuscitate Pashmina in its original avatar. One such personality is Varuna Anand, who recently promoted high-end embroidered Pashmina shawls at The Splendor of Kashmir at Hotel Imperial. And she is euphoric that youngsters are aware of the kind of worksmanship that goes into it.

“They are indulging themselves in Pashmina as it has more detailing and their curiosity to know every little detail means that it has a future,” says Anand, who showcased the work of artisans from Srinagar at her show.

These shawls are very different from the ones seen on ramps. “We still have fantastic craftsmen in Kashmir. These shawls are traditional, which you don’t get to see in Delhi. I don’t do any blending of wools and educate people that these are labour-intensive products.” A textile expert and founder of The Splendor of Kashmir, Anand got enlightened about Pashmina after getting married into a Kashmiri family. “It was an eye-opener for me and I have been working with local weavers in the Valley for the last eight years,” she says.

A letter from the Editor

Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 31, 2020 2:08:07 PM |

Next Story