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    Find rare Indian textiles and weaving techniques at Nayaab, an artisanal showcase by Sharan Apparao and Rupa Sood

    Classic cut tussar jackets featuring sujani embroidery that is unique to Bihar. Or traditional Benarasi saris with the rare rangkat weaving technique. At the second edition of Nayaab, an initiative to showcase artisanal textiles from across the country, 12 designers with varied design aesthetics, but united in their desire to revive our textile traditions, are coming under one roof.
    According to gallerist Sharan Apparao, who is curating the show along with Delhi-based textile connoisseur, Rupa Sood, Nayaab is an offering for the discerning customer—whose knowledge of the textiles she helped nurture through her Yarn Club. Since the club’s inception in Chennai nearly four years ago (and a year later in Delhi), monthly talks—like the one by textile expert Bessie Cecil Melito’s on the Karuppur sari or the most recent one that drew a comparison between Balinese and Indian weaves—have turned the spotlight on heritage textiles and techniques. “The club has created awareness among people about quality textiles and the narrative of craft. They are now able to appreciate the effort that goes into it,” she explains.

    With excellence in craft as its calling card, she recalls the curation for the Delhi edition (last December). “As part of the Yarn Club, we’d come across a lot of people whose work blended creativity with technique. We made sure that unless the craft was exceptional and people were showcasing something unique, we didn’t include them,” she says. The event’s success has not only led to plans to make it an annual event in the Delhi fashion calendar (the next one promising to be a tighter curation, of natural dyes and fibres), but has also facilitated the Chennai edition. “Eight of the (16) designers who showcased their work in Delhi are coming down to Chennai. That, in itself, speaks of the success of the Delhi event,” she says, reminiscing how the “real connoisseurs—from Rajya Sabha MP Renuka Chowdhury to actress Shabana Azmi” had attended it.
    Putting together the Chennai event has been arduous, too. Apparao admits it took nearly six months, and that she also had to field the scepticism from a few designers who were “unsure about the Chennai market”. Does she see this as an annual event in the city? “Only the response to this edition can answer that,” she says, adding emphatically that there is no scope to make it a travelling show. “It is impossible to get good quality products made in large quantities. So any effort in that direction will make the event lose its exclusivity. If you want to showcase really good work, you have to be careful to select only the best,” she points out.
    In the Chennai edition, Nayaab will feature premium labels from Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Kashmir. The couturists—with their expertise spread across prints, embroidery and weaves—will bring down classic Indian wear, besides contemporary works designed to suit western silhouettes. There’s a lot of jamdhani to pick from, including the delicate Ab-E-Rawan range of jamdhanis, muslin saris and ready-to-wear by Delhi-based Mallika Mathur. Kolkata-based Weavers Studio are also showcasing heavily-embroidered jamdhani saris that take at least four months to handcraft (each sari featuring over 60 designs on them). There’s also a capsule collection of bead-worked jamdhani fusion wear by Delhi-based Aneeth Arora’s Pero.
    For men, there are sherwanis in Benarasi brocade by Hyderabad-based designer Gaurang Shah. There’s also a pre-fall line of jewellery, largely comprising neck pieces made with stainless steel, jute, thread and leather, by En Inde.
    Besides the showcase, Nayaab will also feature a talk on Mughal textiles by designer Mayank Mansingh Kaul, on August 9, at 5.30 pm.
    August 8-10, from 11 am to 8 pm, at Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park.
    Free entry. Details: 9941012388


    —Sharadha Narayanan

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