He didn’t set out to make the handloom sari trendy. Rather, with his brand Raw Mango, designer Sanjay Garg wanted to explore traditional design vocabulary and work with weavers to revive old techniques. The fact that his saris are coveted and oft spotted on the red carpet—worn by celebrities like Tabu, Soha Ali Khan and Konkana Sen Sharma—are a testament to their artistry and timeless appeal.
After unveiling his Mashru collection at the Amazon India Fashion Week last October, Garg is ready with his next line—as yet untitled, he just calls it “festive”. “Colours can tell stories and I’ve worked with a lot of bright hues, from pinks and yellows to lime greens and whites. You’ll also find greys and charcoals,” says the Delhi-based designer, who will be showcasing the line at Good Earth this weekend. Expect to find over 200 saris—some with an all-over print and others with a chequered body.
Bypassing the dynasty
Unlike many designers who look to the Mughals when it comes to revisiting old aesthetics, Garg has tried something different. “Their influence is actually the most recent—to me it’s almost contemporary. For this collection, I’ve looked beyond, to when checks and stripes were our design dictionary,” he says, explaining that he has worked with the weavers of Benares, who are traditionally influenced by the Mughal period. For his motifs, he has drawn inspiration from South Indian temple architecture. “It’s the most preserved architecture in our country, with fascinating imagery. On the saris, you will find traditional designs like elephants, moonstones and rudraksha, besides mythical animals like the Yali (part lion, part elephant and part horse),” says the Delhi based designer.
Old and the new
However, he proves why he is called a textile artist by many, with how he has crafted the saris. With tall borders, the brocade silks have been woven with the less-used three-shuttle weaving technique and interlocking weft. Garg points out that the border and the body were woven separately—with the pallu being tie-dyed—so as to give the six yards a striking contrast. “We’ve used the kadwa brocade technique, where the motifs are done with an extra weft. So the patterns, etched in gold against the Benarasi silk, achieves a clarity of pattern, with gem-like enamelling,” he says.
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—Surya Praphulla Kumar