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Classical and contemporary block prints beckon at Lal

YOU might be a die-hard fan of polka dots or graphic tees, but you can’t walk out of the Living Art Lifestyles boutique without falling a little in love with block prints. The six-year-old boutique has re-branded itself as Lal (red in Hindi), since last month. Situated next door to its former premises—which featured an eclectic mix of products from designers across the country—it now exclusively showcases designs by Pondicherry-based Samantaray duo: mother Bitasta and daughter Bidisha.

Your choices1
Their divergent tastes make for an interesting ensemble. From traditional mango and peacock motifs block-printed on elegant salwar-kameezes to chic crop tops with the on-trend houndstooth print, you’ll find both the ethnic and the edgy. “We have more than 2,000 blocks,” says Bitasta, who became enamoured with block printing as a teenager. “But what makes each piece exclusive is our unique combinations of colours and prints,” she adds.

Bidisha’s palazzos, shirts and dresses (Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,600) are summery, in zesty oranges and greens. In contrast, Bitasta’s silk-cotton designs (Rs 11,200) sport large motifs in rich, earthy colours. Diaphanous dupattas with gold prints (Rs 750) and soft malmal saris (Rs 2,200) with subtle prints are show-stoppers.

Lal also stocks lampshades designed by the duo. Fashioned out of silk and cotton, with prints of motifs and geometrical patterns, they make for statement pieces. Available in various shapes and sizes, Bidisha suggests they can be attached to antique wooden carvings (discarded tops of old pillars) for a touch of drama.Cushions with geometric prints (Rs 200 to Rs 600) and handprinted foldable stools are other unusual décor you will find here. And if you’d rather carry block prints with you everyday, their 2016 diaries are your best bet.

Next up
Lal’s upcoming spring/summer collection (to be launched in February) will feature sling bags and bedspreads printed with recycled blocks. Bidisha has sourced “useful waste” like ropes, plastic and mats to experiment with new designs and textures. She adds that a range of home linen, bags and clothes, with a relaxed-yet-cool vibe, will be printed using the new blocks. “The look and feel will be contemporary, but the technique will be traditional,” she states, adding, “I hope to create a line that makes sustainable use of recycled waste.”

Open between 10 am and 8 pm, Tuesdays to Sundays, on Rue Bazar St Laurent. Details: 0413 4308773

— Olympia Shilpa Gerald

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