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Timeless symbols, modern interpretations

INDIAN COLOURS: Archana Kochhar's collection for New York Fashion Week was inspired by the Taj Mahal and the Banjara tribe.

INDIAN COLOURS: Archana Kochhar's collection for New York Fashion Week was inspired by the Taj Mahal and the Banjara tribe.  

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Mumbai designer Archana Kochhar showcased her collection, ‘A Tale of Two Travels’, at the Big Apple yesterday

One of the many demands of the fashion industry is to strive to remain relevant and current at all times. At a time when ‘Make in India’ and ‘Inclusive Fashion’ are the buzzwords, Mumbai-based designer Archana Kochhar showcased her collection inspired by the timeless beauty of the Taj Mahal, and the nomadic Banjara tribe in the Big Apple on Wednesday.

This is Kochhar’s second stint at the event. Last year, her collection dedicated to ahimsa silk as part of the government’s Make In India initiative was met with wide appreciation overseas. “NYFW is a good platform to promote and popularise Indian art and concepts. My collection, ‘Ahimsa’, which was a [collection made of] silk produced without killing a single silkworm was well received last season. And it did help the women artisans I worked with,” she said in an interview with The Hindu.

This year, her ‘A Tale of Two Travels’ collection aims to promote Indian art and culture in every aspect and globalise it. “India’s rich heritage and culture should be presented on global platforms and that’s the main reason for picking India-centric themes and concepts,” she says.

The Banjara tribe serves as inspiration for her ‘Melange’ line: “The nomadic tribe is known for its vibrant, mesmerising colours and rustic mirror work. The colour palette of this collection is black and white, offset with multi-colour thread work, mirror work and colourful jewellery.”

The second line, inspired by the Taj Mahal, showcases digital prints with vibrant symbolic motifs of the monument it’s named after, the lotus, and the mighty royal elephants, combined with geometric motifs.

Other than a need to promote Indian tourism, what made her choose the Taj as her muse? “The Taj Mahal is a symbol of love,” she says. “It is a mark of outstanding architecture. In every sense, it is a work of art. Every story about the Taj is an inspiration. India is such a beautiful country. We haven’t got our dues globally when it comes to tourism. If I can do something in my capacity to help the cause, why not?”

The initiative Bring Beauty Back initiative is central to the collection. Last year, renowned amputee model Rebekah Marin was Kochhar’s showstopper. And this year, Reshma Qureshi was the first Indian acid attack victim to walk down a ramp overseas, when she was the showstopper for Kochhar at the FTL Moda New York Fashion Week. “It is not about looking a certain type any more. I have always tried to incorporate this in my shows. At NYFW 2015, I had models with various physical disabilities walking for me. They were beautiful in every aspect, with poise and grace. So the thought behind Reshma walking for me was to promote the concept of beauty having different facets.”

This isn’t the first time an acid attack victim has taken the ramp. And Kochhar firmly believes that more such initiatives will lend them more acceptance in society. “I believe beauty is not external; it’s what comes from within. Fashion Weeks are considered benchmarks for beauty. Hence, it is imperative to promote the inclusion of all forms of beauty and to fight stereotypes. It is a pleasure to work with Reshma, who, in her own way, has been working extensively for a similar cause of supporting other acid attack victims.”

Kochhar is off to Melbourne next, to participate at the Ozvaganza Melbourne Fashion Week later this month.

The author is a freelance writer

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 1:38:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/Timeless-symbols-modern-interpretations/article14628920.ece

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