Nift(y) show all the way

It was a great symphony. Of the traditional given a modern touch. A midas touch actually, to put it in choreographer, Prasad Bidappa's words. A colourful canvas of the past and the present, the unmistakable rhythm of the old infused into the new by young and vibrant students of fashion, this was surely style element at its best.

No weird weaves. No streaks of eccentricity. No garish gear. And no funk either. Only the simple made to look sublime. And more importantly, wearable too. The National Institute of Fashion Technology's "Spectrum 2K2'' couldn't have asked for a better beginning.

The celebration of a treasure trove called Andhra textiles, an exploration into its myriad weaves and an indubitable design to cut them into contemporary styles, the designs showcased in a fashion show at the Shilpakala Vedika was all about these and more.

Breathing life into the soul of the age-old yet quintessentially Andhra fabric, this was a cutting-edge job by the young students.

And they did the unimaginable, changing the look of the traditional textiles which have for long been a way of life in the Andhra hinterlands, and more importantly, taking the long-established customs forward into the mercurial world of modern fashion.

The rich Dharmavaram silk saree gets a swish here, a snipe there and lo, there are tops, short tops, long skirts and what have you. "You wouldn't expect them to be made of the old fabric which you've been seeing from years together,'' says N.V.N. Nathan, Director, NIFT, Hyderabad. Ditto with the Gadwal and Mangalagiri cottons, the Guntur zari, Pochampalli Ikkat weaves, Kalamkari, Cherial and the like as sheaths, shirts, pedal-pushers, capris and a whole range of ware for women and men unspooled.

Nift(y) show all the way

Bright gold, blue, earthy greens and browns, ethereal white and silver interlaced in many combinations, sometimes speckled, sometimes streaked, sometimes in Zardozi, sometimes in Dharmavaram silk, but all the time in the most intricate of weaves, and the models shimmered on the stage.

``I've never seen the entire range of Andhra textiles. And what I have seen now is truly amazing. Indeed, its a true tribute to the weavers not to forget the young designers who have whipped up magic from the age-old weaves,'' Bidapa clad in a silk dhoti drooled.

Nathan was more forthright. "The show belongs to the Andhra weavers. My army of students explored this huge canvas and showed a new direction to the known fabric traditions,'' he said. "The traditionally available Dharmavaram, Venkatagiri, Gadwal and Narayanpet sarees which normally adorn the middle-aged and old women have been used to create a western flavour to take them to the young college-goers.

The creations are trendy yet retain their ethnic touch. Even the Yemmiganur fabrics used as home products are turned into basic women's and men's wear lines with styling features like cowls, wrapped layers with Indo-Western and Western cuts,'' explain M.C. Mohan and Y. Malini Reddy who teach at NIFT, Hyderabad.

Indeed, a true blend of the glory of the old with the flair of the contemporary.

By K.V.S. Madhav

Photos: Satish H.

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