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    Three women talk about our favourite drapeA� and how Utppalakshi has become what it is today

    IMG_1291 (1)Tucked away in a nondescript alcove on Lotus Colony, just off the bustling Chamiers Road, is Chennaia��s newest treasure trove of kanjeevaram pattu saris a�� Utppalakshi. Owned by sisters Shanthi Subbiah and Kalpana Ananthasamy, and sister-in-law Chitrabala Mohan, the boutique and its stunning array of silks opened quietly last September to a small party of family and discerning a�?fans of the crafta��. The talented trio who have all lived in Chennai for over 30 years, profess to having a great passion for handcrafted Indian fabrics and jewellery; a passion which inspired them to start their sartorial venture. a�?Like most people from Tamil Nadu, wea��ve all grown up with our mothers, aunts and pattis choosing only the most elegant of pattu saris for special occasions,a�? says Ananthasamy (47); she and sister Shanthi are originally from Nagercoil. a�?But the quality of the silks and the designs that we grew up with has changed over the years. Now there is a lot of pressure on weavers to deliver quickly, so they end up repeating the same designs and offering garish colour combinations,a�? adds Mohan (46). It was exactly a year ago when the idea for Utppalakshi took seed, shares Subbiah (50). a�?My daughter was getting married last year and we went all over the city looking for special designs. Our sari hunt even took us to KanchipuramA� and Coimbatore, all famous for their handlooms of course but we came across a lot of a�?tested zaria��, commonplace designs and colour combinations. So I finally worked with some weavers myself, giving them unusual colour combinations and motifs to use.a�? The results were glorious, and Utppalakshi was born.SAREES3
    The women confess that their focus so far has been on the creative facet of their boutique. a�?We havena��t advertised at all; though we have been busy these last few months! The primary motivation has been on the designs and on our weaversa�� welfare. They are from Kanchipuram and Nagercoil. We work only with pure silks with original zari by giving our weavers the colour combinations and motifs we prefer,a�? explains Subbiah. Expect a refined palette of silks in rainbow hues, everything from classy beige with a pink and green Ganga-Jamuna border, a vibrant yellow with a temple border juxtaposed with half-circles on the body, to a wedding maroon with an unusual pattern of annams (peacocks) in geometric circles, multi-coloured checks and much more. a�?Our saris are then beautifully hand-embellished in Nagercoil a�� youa��ll find everything from Belgian embroidery, petit-point, to now Kalamkari a�� our newest project,a�? she adds. a�?We carry no more than 350 limited-edition saris (and change the collection every week), some pure silk material and paavadais for girls a�� but you will not find a replica of your sari anywhere else in the world,a�? says Subbiah, adding that the detailed workmanship could take anywhere between three months and a year, to complete.

    By appointment only. Online orders on their Facebook page. Rs 6,500 onwards. Details: 9789937149 and facebook.com/Utppalakshi

    Shibi Kumaramangalam


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