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    Featuring saris, yardages, bags and more, Craft Council of India brings the Natural Dye Bazaar to town

    IN 2013, when American designer Donna Karan was in the country, Pracheen, an artisanal business in Mumbai, was one among her many stops. There she picked up naturally-dyed yardage, which later won applause on the runway as one-shouldered dresses, soft coats and pyjama pants in her Spring 2014 collection. “We did an entire collection for her in handmade Dupion silk, in colours like indigo, red and green, with different textures and hand blocked designs like paisley, abstracts and geometric,” recalls Sarfraz Khatri, the owner, who has also designed for the likes of Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani and Priyadarshini Rao.
    With all things natural seeing a revival the world over, the time seemed opportune to showcase it in the city, too. Khatri will be joined by 40 other participants from around the country at the Co-Optex Groun1ds in Egmore, for the  first edition of Craft Council of India’s five-day Natural Dye Bazaar. “We have been following up on different practitioners and realised that many people are being trained in the use of natural dyes, especially now with it being considered one of the most sustainable processes in textile production,” explains Gita Ram, CCI’s vice chairperson.
    Making it work
    The bazaar is not only an attempt to popularise the use of naturally-dyed products, but also to prove they can be fashionable. Priyanjoli Basu, a Mumbai designer, will be exhibiting garments that she created from yardages that will be on display. Several of the participants, like Dastakar Andhra (DA, which works with weavers), will also be bringing down material specially designed for tailoring. “Besides saris and yardage, we also have stoles and dupattas, which are not a part of handloom tradition. Our kalamkari is special, too, as it is block printed on handloom,” says Latha Tumuru, design head of DA. Also look out for Bhujodi weaves from Gujarat, ikkats from Telangana, ajrak from Gujarat, dabu from Rajasthan and bagh prints from Madhya Pradesh, among others.
    Colours of variety
    One of the highlights will be Brij Ballabh, who owns Shilpi, a business in Rajasthan that specialises in hand block printing on handlooms like chanderi, tussar silk and mangalagiri. “We have updated the traditional to suit contemporary tastes with more up-to-date colour combinations and contemporary designs. We are also bringing down home furnishing and clothing,” he says. At Khatri’s stall, expect silk saris, yardages and dupattas. “Our geometric patterns and makkhi bootis are quite popular,” he says.
    Meanwhile, bucking the trend of fabrics will be participants like Rahwaa, an organisation from Odisha, that will showcase mats and bags made with Sabai grass, and city-based M Rm Rm Cultural Foundation with their palm-leaf baskets. “We are also highlighting the North East. NEDFi is bringing down eri silk stoles and yardages, along with bags and baskets woven from water hyacinth,” signs off Ram.

    March 11 -15, at Co-Optex Grounds, from 10.30 am to 7.30 pm. Products from Rs 350 onwards. Details: craftscouncilofindia.org
    Surya Praphulla Kumar

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