In Conversation With: Karishma Shahani At London Fashion Week | Verve Magazine
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February 20, 2017

In Conversation With: Karishma Shahani At London Fashion Week

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

5 emerging Indian designers, supported by IMG Reliance, took home the award for the Best International Fashion Showcase at London Fashion Week. Here’s a look at their work, influences, and creative techniques

How have you incorporated the theme of ‘The Indian Pastoralists’ in your showcase?
“Each one of us who is representing India at this installation has chosen a separate nomadic community. I have picked the rabaris of Gujarat because they were the first community I interacted with when I started working with crafts. When I spoke to a few members, I learned that every item of their clothing has some social relevance to it. You can tell a lot about a rabari by just looking at his attire, which I found to be a fascinating and pure concept.”

What are the elements that influenced your collection?
“Layering is a very important part of my label’s aesthetic which worked out very nicely for this showcase. Whether it’s using their shoulder cloth to sit on, wipe their head or shield themselves from the sun, functionality is an important element of everything they wear — the essence of which I have tried to capture in this collection.”

What are the local elements that you have tried to retain?
“The rabaris like to embellish their houses and equipment while keep it minimalistic since they are nomadic by nature and move from place to place. It amazes me how they bring forth an entire spectrum of colours in spite of living in a nondescript desert area. Therefore, the keywords for our ode to this community are colour, embroidery and functionality.”

What does the KaSha woman symbolise?
“Self-expression through whatever she wears.”

How have you maintained a balance between an Indian and global aesthetic?
“I believe Indian designers have come a long way from using gaudy motifs of elephants and peacocks to retain their Indian-ness. It’s more important that we present our indigenous arts and techniques to to the world in a refined way, which is what I’ve tried to do.”

What are the techniques and textiles used?
“We’ve amalgamated mirror-work and thread-work into tie-dye because bandhni is an important part of rabari attire. We’ve tied in the mirror-work with embroidery and wrapped fabric around it, so the mirror comes to different levels. That way, it has a sense of movement when light reflects off it.”

London is…
“Nostalgic. I’ve studied here so it’s like coming back home. It’s also a melting pot of people from all over the world, so you never really feel out of place because you can count on hearing some Hindi phrases everywhere you go.”

A show that you would want to attend at London Fashion Week…
“Peter Pilotto and Mary Katranzou.”

Read about Ragini Ahuja’s installation here.

Read about Ujjawal Dubey’s installation here

Read about Kaleekal’s installation here.

Read about Priyanka Lama’s installation here.

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