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Fashion
July 29, 2017

Bungalow 8 X Lara Morakhia: Wearable Art At Its Best

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

Fiercely individualistic and creatively unrelenting, Morakhia’s designs are more pieces of art than jewellery

When a trekking accident left Lara Morakhia confined to her bed for the better part of a year, the then doctor refused to wallow in self-pity. Morakhia, who was quite popular among her friends for collecting thought-provoking Indian art, used this time to create jewellery with an artistic twist. A couple of years down the line, she was inundated with calls from prospective clients eager to get their hands on her artsy pieces that employed beads, antique and fine silver from Rajasthan, Bhutan, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Morakhia had well and truly arrived on the scene, or at least that’s what she thought.

  • Lara Morakhia, Bungalow 8, Jewellery, Art, Maithili Ahluwalia, Designer, Collaboration,
  • Lara Morakhia, Bungalow 8, Jewellery, Art, Maithili Ahluwalia, Designer, Collaboration,

Years later, this wonderful entity called serendipity caused her to be noticed by Maithili Ahluwalia, owner of Bungalow 8 as she walked through the doors of the store to browse through a few designs. On learning that the jewellery she was wearing was self-designed, Ahluwalia, who prides herself on having a keen eye for spotting talent, invited her to collaborate with the store to showcase her collection. Morakhia was more than happy to comply and designed 56 pieces fashioned after Indian architecture and tribal art which will debut at Bungalow 8 today.

Excerpts from our interview:

The pursuit of design
“I have always had a fascination for erstwhile Indian royalty. When I was young, I remember that while going through old pictures and artefacts, I was less concerned with the monetary value of a particular stone, and more interested in the story behind a particular piece. One example that comes to mind is the Jacob diamond that was used by the Nizam of Hyderabad as a paperweight. Such stories of grandeur are amongst some of my earliest memories of design.”

  • Lara Morakhia, Bungalow 8, Jewellery, Art, Maithili Ahluwalia, Designer, Collaboration,
  • Lara Morakhia, Bungalow 8, Jewellery, Art, Maithili Ahluwalia, Designer, Collaboration,

Heady inspirations
“Indian heritage art and design are my biggest influences and I draw inspiration from them to create pieces that become statements of art themselves. It is difficult to isolate a single source of stimuli for my designs, rather, I bring together various influences from my private collections to external ones. These include antique royal textiles, jewellery and ensembles from the princely states of Rajasthan, Patiala, Baroda, and Hyderabad and paintings by Raja Ravi Varma.”

  • Lara Morakhia, Bungalow 8, Jewellery, Art, Maithili Ahluwalia, Designer, Collaboration,
  • Lara Morakhia, Bungalow 8, Jewellery, Art, Maithili Ahluwalia, Designer, Collaboration,

Creative catharsis
“My thought process is very intuitive because I live, breathe and speak in design. As an avid collector of heritage art, textiles and jewellery, I often look to my own collections for inspiration. Artistic revelations are presented to me by beads, silver and gold in conjunction with external stimuli from museums, books, heritage structures and contemporary culture. It is a process of juxtaposition, creative destruction and invention. Once I have an idea, I begin visualising the design almost immediately which gives way to prompt sketching.”

  • Lara Morakhia, Bungalow 8, Jewellery, Art, Maithili Ahluwalia, Designer, Collaboration,
  • Lara Morakhia, Bungalow 8, Jewellery, Art, Maithili Ahluwalia, Designer, Collaboration,

Material girl
“I do not limit myself to any one material because every texture offers endless possibilites. Some of the materials I work with are bone, leather, precious and semi-precious stones, precious metals, jadtar, kundan and mother of pearl injected with my own unique aesthetic so that the end result is completely different from what you would expect.”

Symbiotic collaborations
“Rather than sell jewellery, Bungalow 8 curates collections that have artistic value. The fact that the boutique values art over nickels and dimes is what makes the association all the more special to me. It’s great that Maithili has turned tradition on its head and created a space that provides an outlet for experimental souls. She’s given me full creative control over my collection as a debutante because she’s seen the appeal in my design and wants to retain that raw orginality.”

  • Lara Morakhia, Bungalow 8, Jewellery, Art, Maithili Ahluwalia, Designer, Collaboration,
  • Lara Morakhia, Bungalow 8, Jewellery, Art, Maithili Ahluwalia, Designer, Collaboration,

Label talk
“My brand philosophy is quite simple. I only design what I would personally wear. My collection is a representation, expression and extension of myself. One of my favourite pieces is the necklace with the combs. I have created a pendant with two vintage 20th century silver combs from Rajasthan. At present, not many designers would showcase the combs as they would have been represented in the elaborate hairstyles of those times. Instead of simply collecting and stowing away these gorgeous relics, I wanted to resurrect them where they could still steal the spotlight but in a contemporary and relevant way.”

This collection will be showcased over July 29 and 30 at Bungalow 8, Wankhede Stadium, Churchgate, Mumbai.

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