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    From tussars to Chanderis, it’s all about tradition in designer Pradeep Pillai’s creations

    New Delhi-based designer  Pradeep Pillai will add to the myriad  colours, hues and textures that grace the halls of city-designer Ahalya’s flagship store, Kingsley, beginning this weekend. Expect over 300 saris of multiple patterns and weaves including tussars from Nalanda, silk cottons from Chanderi and linens from Venkatagiri.

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    Reinventing tradition

    The discourse around handlooms and its revival has been picking up steam over the last few years. However, Pradeep Pillai would rather not be slotted as a ‘revivalist designer’. The reason — he believes in rendering his own version of modernity in the traditional weaves. “Though my designs are not based on trends, change is
    constant and fashion needs to be revised according to the times.” Take the Venkatagiri sari for example — it is recognisable by its motifs of peacocks, birds or mangoes, and is almost always made of cotton.

    Inspired by such a sari, Pradeep convinced weavers to remake the sari, but this time using a different yarn—linen. “My twist of the contemporary is always in terms of fabric, motifs and colours, never in the weaving technique itself.” Having taken a keen interest in tussar saris, the NIFT graduate closely works with weavers from Nalanda. While tussars are often made with Chinese silk, the designer uses desi yarn which produces a coarser, earthier variety of the fabric, in comparison to its smoother foreign counterpart. “The pleasure of draping this garment is unmatched,” he says with a smile. These saris come in shades of indigo, blue and beige with Buddhist motifs.

    Having been a part of the handcrafted textile sector for the last 17 years, Pradeep also works with weavers from Chanderi. His take on modernity comes in the form of asymmetrical bhutis that cannot be replicated using a powerloom. In addition to these, there are also linen saris which feature Kodali Karppur motifs. “These saris were handwoven and then painted on during the Maratha rule in the 17th and 18th centuries. My designs feature a simpler handwoven version of the classic.”

    Homecoming

    Talking about his decision to retail at Ahalya, the 38-year-old designer says that the century-old edifice that houses Kingsley resonates with his approach to fashion. Adding her thoughts on the same, Ahalya S says, “We agree with his aesthetics, that are restrained and give depth of character to his designs.”
    Available at Kingsley from today. Rs 8,000 onwards. Details: 42120266

    — Rebecca Vargese

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