Antar Agni And Bodice Win Big At International Woolmark Prize’s Regional Round | Verve Magazine
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August 16, 2017

Antar Agni And Bodice Win Big At International Woolmark Prize’s Regional Round

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

Taking inspiration from Indian tribes and royal courtesans, these designers want to shift the staid global perception towards Indian design and bring in some fresh air

Ujjawal Dubey
For taking his label Antar-Agni to the finals of the International Woolmark Prize 2017/18 in the menswear category

Perpetuating tribal influences
“I have always been fascinated by the functionality and vivacity of tribal designs but my predilection for them was truly reinforced after the International Fashion Showcase at London. My collection was fashioned after the Van Gujjars of North India who have a distinctive style of layering — they wrap a shawl around their shoulders, under which they wear a vest, under which you will find their long kurtas or loose shirts with salwars. It made me realize that there is a vast unexplored realm in the fashion industry by way of pastoral tribes and nomads, which led me to choose them as the inspiration for the recently concluded International Woolmark Prize Regional Round. The collection was inspired by the nomads of both temperate and cold regions and their ceaseless wandering across India. The quality of their life, the simplicity, the night sky and the myriad constellations that they chance upon under a desert sky filled me with innate joy as I got to work conceptualising the designs.”

Getting into the nitty-gritties
“I tried my best to retain some of the most outstanding locals elements in this collection. I’ve reinterpreted the tiny local tattoo symbols as hand embroidered details and rendered the night sky, which serves as the soul of this collection, through metal. I worked with the weight of merino wool, developing heavier fabrics and juxtaposing them with sheer. The idea was to arrive at the ideal texture through the variation in mass along with the introduction of zari and fibres like silk and cotton. I decided to stick with one of the sturdiest weave structures, twill since it provided a robust base for the other components to be played around with.”

Unconventional patrons and inspirations
“I wanted to create comfort clothing for the new age man who juggles several roles; think banker by weekday and traveller by weekend. The idea was to present a way of life which was not merely about surviving, but exulting in living. It is meant for the man who cheerfully invites the wanderlust bug to bite him and is constantly on the move.

Bounipun have to be my favourite designer duo from last year’s edition. They pride themselves on redefining the menswear landscape by adopting Kashmir craft practices and work with skilled locals to present our historic artistry to a discerning global audience.”

Final destination
“The subtle sheen and fall of merino wool have found an ardent admirer in me with great scope for exploration and experimenting. For the finale, I will begin working on the collection sketches that I’ve submitted at the regional stage with the vision of getting into more fabric developments. The style, however, will have my trademark hint of eastern classicism with a global appeal. Right from the inspiration and the handloom fabrics to the silhouettes and the introduction of zari, I want to spark a conversation on the new age Indian soul and aesthetic. I think it’s time we shifted the staid global perception towards Indian design and brought in some fresh air.”

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