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    Sampangi impresses with unusual prints and concept saris.

    There isn’t much else to do but gasp in delight as city-based Supraja Srinivasan deftly drapes one of her multi-coloured cotton saris (on me) in less than 60 seconds. The pleats are perfect and so is the fuchsia khadi cotton creation with a contrasting ikat-weave pallu and border in hues of saffron and olive green. Srinivasan is the creative force behind Sampangi, a month-old city-based sari label (launched with a Facebook page) that fashions saris using uncommon prints, colour combinations and fabrics.
    “Every sari at Sampangi is one-of-a-kind; a ‘concept’ sari if you will. While my clients range from ages 18 to 80, I do try to make the sari more contemporary and easy-to-wear,” says the 34-year-old of her creative aesthetic. The former model confesses that even as a child the sari had fascinated her. It was only later, however, that she started paying more attention to the stories that prefaced the timeless garments she modelled. “I’ve modelled saris for Kumaran’s, Tulsi Silks, Man Mandir, Nalli’s and Pothy’s in Chennai,” she smiles. Srinivasan’s previous work experience also includes stints in her family business and as a manager/customer liaison at a prominent handloom boutique. “I have worked in retail before, but I am definitely a self-taught designer. I work with natural fabrics and play with colours, rare prints and unusual textures that I pick up from all over India,” explains the MBA graduate.
    Expect khadi cotton, block-printed soft cottons, mangalagiri, jute cottons, raw silk and traditional weaves like pochampalli.  “I work mostly with handlooms because I love the raw texture and look. Also it’s my way of showing my appreciation to the artisans who toil making them. They are best suited for our weather,” she adds. I find we are spoilt for choice—from minimalist jute silk in pastel hues, a vibrant ikat-weave juxtaposed against monochrome checks, olive green warli-print yardage that plays off against sky blue mangalagiri and chrome-yellow. Srinivasan, who is mother to a lovely little girl, says that styling is key to appeal to younger customers. “I can also create a ‘concept’ sari where the pleats are already in place. All my saris come with blouse pieces, but a well-fitting off-shoulder, halter or boat-neck blouse in a neutral hue is a wardrobe essential,” she advises. Sampangi saris are also available at the Silk Route, on Harrington Road.
    Rs 3,500 onwards. Details: facebook.com/sampangi

    — Shibi Kumaramangalam

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