Life & Style

Sumit Sawhney’s latest collection draws from temple carvings with an added contemporary touch

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In the city for Jito-The Bridal Story at Taj Coromandel last week, the jewellery designer introduced his new collection The Temple Bride.

It was once an Afghan hair clip; studded with semi-precious stones and fashioned out of pure silver. Today, it is the centrepiece of an elaborate necklace; suspended by two hand painted panels of Lord Shrinathji; all held together by strings and strings of iridescent freshwater pearls. Wear it over a sari, shift dress or a smart top; the necklace is an attention grabber. The hair clip like many other old silver artefacts that make their way into Sumit Sawhney’s studio finds itself in a different avatar.

Known for his stunning silver jewellery under label Apala, Sumit counts several celebrities as his clients — Alia Bhatt, Sonam Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Soha Ali Khan, Vidya Balan, Sunny Leone and Shraddha Kapoor. In the city for Jito-The Bridal Story at Taj Coromandel last week, Sumit introduced his new collection The Temple Bride.

Sumit Sawhney’s latest collection draws from temple carvings with an added contemporary touch

“It is an eclectic mix of temple elements with a contemporary charm to it,” he says, adding, “I’ve used precious and semi-precious stones and carvings inspired from temples (from the deities, pillars and prabhavalis). You’ll see a hint of black in my collection as is seen in South Indian temples. The beauty of these pieces is that they’re quite versatile: you could wear it to a traditional occasion, immediately wear it to a party or a casual outing. I have clients who’d wear these pieces with a sari and then pair it with a shirt and shorts as well.”

Designed with pure silver, Sumit says he prefers the metal over gold for the fact that he can freely design bold pieces without really worrying about factors like wastage. “With gold, people will want to know how much gold they’ll get for a price for factors such as resale value. So you can’t really fill it up with stones. But that’s not the case with silver; I can give much nicer finishes and bold designs. I’ve combined silver with wood, acrylic, copper in my pieces,” he says.

Uncut and raw

Some of the stones he enjoys working with are rubies, emeralds, tourmalines, sapphires, malachite and lapis lazuli among others. “But I get them carved very differently. No traditional cuts in my designs. In fact, I work with karigars across the country who lend their own individuality and ethnic influences to the stone cuts. That way I’m able to be very original in my designs,” he says. Sumit also uses 22-karat gold plating on his pieces.

Interestingly, Sumit also loves to work with antique pieces and one can see several antiques featuring in his designs apart from spiritual elements. “My mother has been collecting antique jewellery for years and now there are people who come to us with old pieces as well. We buy them and I give them a completely new spin. My designs are inherently Indian in nature, but with a contemporary touch. Nothing will be too cluttered,” says the designer who had also done the jewellery for Veere di Wedding. In fact, the round maang tikka worn by Kareena Kapoor in the movie became hugely popular and was duplicated in the market, even before he could launch it in a collection.

Sumit Sawhney’s latest collection draws from temple carvings with an added contemporary touch

Talking about what inspires his pieces, Sumit says it’s all the travelling he does and “the music I listen to”. In fact, the music he listens to plays a major role in how his pieces shape up. “I enjoy instrumental music and if I’m listening to Turkish music you will see those elements emerge in my design. If it is Anoushka Shankar’s music on my playlist then there will be a classical touch to my jewellery.”

Incidentally, his mother Arti Sawhney is a famous furniture designer and that, says Sumit, played a major role in him becoming a jewellery designer. “My mother tells me that I’d fashion jewellery for her at the age of three with twigs and clay. I’ve spent a lot of time with her in the factory and watched her work with the karigars and be quite hands-on. I guess that innate sense of design and art rubbed off,” he smiles. Sumit would also often travel with his mother for exhibitions and help out. One time, when he was 16, he designed the entire floor plan for Amol Palekar when his mother was busy. “Turned out all of them liked my designs and that’s what was finalised in the end,” he says. Today, Sumit is joined by his mother in the jewellery designing business.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 9:02:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/sumit-sawhney-on-designing-for-bollywood-stars/article29439673.ece

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