LONDON: Indian fashion was celebrated in high style at London Fashion Week’s Fashion Scout.
A showcase of young Indian designers was followed by a remarkable representation of the country’s rich culture through 17 magnificent sarees selected by female staff at the Indian High Commission in London.
The evening event was led by the High Commissioner of India to the UK Ruchi Ghanashyam, and included a short video message from the Indian Minister of Textiles Smriti Irani.
The Indian designers, who showcased contemporary trends, included Shabnam Harjai, Nabila Saiyedarif Attas, Chaitra Basavaraj Kalyanshettar, Tanishaa Parakh, Sourav Marndi, Sandya Miriyala, Suchitra Rani Sahoo, Darshna Gothi, Ayushi Jain and Pearl Lobo.
Their pieces were fresh and original but what followed opened a window on centuries of breathtaking artisanship and the sheer scale and diversity of Indian traditional design.
The sarees selected for the showing, titled “Six Yards of Elegance,” represented tradition covering the whole of India – from Jammu and Kashmir to Varanisi, in Uttar Pradesh.
The showcase was compered by Maithreyi Seetharaman, who heads Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women International.
In her opening remarks she said: “It’s my pleasure to host this rather special showcase of discovery – not led by a designer – but by the wonderful and talented women of the High Commission of India, showcasing India and its backbone in six yards.
“Since the time of the silk route, the soul of Indian women has found its way to every closet and runway across the globe – from the high street to couture – reflected in the designs, embroidery and materials that are now core to the world of fashion.
“What we wear each day to work, weddings and funerals is perhaps the purest form of the discovery of India, representing who we are and the core of our culture,” added Seetharaman.
Picking out any one saree from those on display was almost impossible, as all had their own unique hallmarks, but of outstanding beauty was the Kerela kasavu saree.
Seetharaman said: “Vibrant colors define the Indian woman but the muted elegance of women in God’s own country, Kerela, can be identified clearly by their use of the traditional kasavu saree. Restrained elegance is on display with its traditional cream color and rich gold border.
“Kasavu specifically only refers to the intricate gold brocade border; it is widely used during religious ceremonies and especially during the Hindu new year when purity and spirituality is reborn, and the journey of the discovery of India and Indians begins afresh.”
Also breathtaking was the banarasi silk saree. “We stay westward in the ancient city of Varanasi with the silk saree considered the pinnacle of hand-weaving. It is for an Indian woman what a Birkin bag is to fashionistas and part of every north Indian bride’s trousseau,” added Seetharaman.
“Originally crafted only for royalty, each banarasi sari takes a year to make in fine silk with embroidery in real gold and silver and motifs in brocade silk. Banaras brocades and sarees got the geographical indication (GI) rights in 2009, securing protection for these artisanal works.”