Ode to tradition

TRADITIONAL ESSENCE Asha: ‘I try to reinvent myself with every new line.’

TRADITIONAL ESSENCE Asha: ‘I try to reinvent myself with every new line.’  

Jewellery designer Asha Kamal Modi on her new line, Parampara

Jhumkis encrusted with stones and pearls, kundan pieces with rubies and white sapphire and intricately carved key chains with tourmalines and zircon tassels! Traditions coalesce in Asha Kamal Modi’s latest collection ‘Parampara.’

“There’s no single reference point for my creations. Over the years, I’ve been inspired by different jewellery traditions. This being the wedding season, I thought it fit to celebrate our parampara. Marriage signifies a new beginning. Traditionally, there are specific pieces that a bride wears or is presented for the occasion. And, that was the spur for this line,” says a petite Modi, who founded Art Karat two decades ago, when semi-precious designer jewellery was unheard of in the country.

Colour play

Modi, a trained gemmologist and winner of several awards, including the President’s award for design, adds: “It’s a wide range that traverses adornments for the neck, hand, finger and waist. I’ve played with colour, and tried different hues of enamel work too. Imagine beige and ivory enamel on traditional jewellery. They lend contemporary appeal to the creations, and can be worn with modern attire too. Whether it is the navratan set or kundan pieces, they are about giving tradition a fashionable twist.” Dressed elegantly in a slinky skirt and top, Modi is a picture of cool.

Using home-grown business sense and an intuitive design aesthetic, she has built a brand that’s now popular among those who are conscious, not just about fashion but their pocket as well.

“It’s been quite a difficult journey. Convincing people to buy silver jewellery with gold veneer wasn’t easy 20 years ago. There was a lot of cynicism about my work. But I knew the thought process had to change. With soaring gold prices, my work stands justified. Today, young people wish to change jewellery with their attire. So, silver-based jewellery makes sense. You can keep pace with fashion, yet not feel guilty about the expenditure! Because, even the intricately carved, stone-encrusted ‘Parampara’ line ranges from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 50,000.”

Talk about her roster of celebrity clients, and she gushes: “Everyone, not just famous film stars, inspire my work. But yes, there are some celebrities such as actor Rekha whom I enjoy designing for. She has a good taste, and can carry off any piece with style. I’ve worked closely with Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit too for ‘Devdas.’

“But films are a different ball game. They are time consuming, and there are too many references to work with – right from costume coordination and period of the film to the mood of the characters. ‘Monsoon Wedding’, ‘Kama Sutra’ and ‘Zubeida’ too, have been learning experiences. But now, with a burgeoning retail business that spans the globe and the Net, I don’t think I’ll take up film assignments unless they are extremely interesting.”


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