Ahilya’s vintage chikankari designs are now in Bengaluru
It was in the 1960s when Mumbai-based Anwar Ahmed Ansari, who came from a family of lawyers, chose a business that would take Lucknow’s chikankari to a phenomenal level. Fascinated by the intricacy of the embroidery, Ansari started the venture in a quaint yet glamorous manner — by personally visiting homes of legends such as Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Bali, Raj Kapoor and Nimmi, and Dilip Kumar, among many other Bollywood stars to sell his simple yet exquisite saris. It was this support that led him to open Mumbai’s first Lucknowi chikan store in Mumbai. Now, five decades later, Ahilaya is run by Ansari’s daughters Farha, Nagma and Sana Ansari, and the trio opened their first outlet in south India at Cinnamon recently.
“We want to continue the founder’s legacy of championing the superb forms of chikankari, as well as expand its vision by incorporating various Indian artistic traditions of handloom weaving and embroidery, such as zardosi, ari and mokaish,” Sana Ansari explains.
With contemporary silhouettes and resort wear that include dresses, kaftans, tops, and saris, etc, the label has managed to reach out to not only the modern Indian woman but expats as well. “As far as chikankari is concerned, we have endeavoured to reintroduce older forms of needlework, and techniques in our vintage line,” Sana adds.
Ahilya’s design philosophy strives to mitigate the belief that women should be restricted by seasons or skin tones. “Our fall/winter collection, therefore, incorporates pastels as well as vibrant tones with delicate embroidery.”
Rs.2,000 onwards. At Gangadhar Chetty Road, Ulsoor.