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November 23, 2017

The Heroes Reviving India’s Heritage Textiles: Vidhi Singhania

Text by Sharmi Ghosh Dastidar

“Our saris glide with you; they don’t restrain you. As Coco Chanel famously said, luxury must be comfortable in order to be luxury”

Where: New Delhi
Known for: Benarasis

The recurring complaint among Delhi’s handloom fanatics about this textile designer is that she’s hardly seen at social dos. While one can witness her marvellous work at the artfully-curated studio in Greater Kailash, at posh textile exhibitions or on social media platforms, it takes a while to meet the reclusive Vidhi Singhania in person.

Draped in a pristine handwoven organza, Singhania’s excitement is palpable as she gives us a peek into her new collection. A riot of colours in soft silks with zari motifs, each and every piece is a sight to behold. “No two saris are similar,” Singhania says with a smiling confidence.

Lauded for reviving Kota weaves of Rajasthan, the designer had stumbled upon the wondrous world of handwoven textiles while living in Kota. Since then, she has been working in tandem with weavers in that city, Sultanpur (Uttar Pradesh), Mangrol (Gujarat) and Kaithun (Kota), apart from those in Varanasi.

The Kota sari has morphed from being a simplistic cotton six-yard in bagru print. “The inclusion of silk yarns increases the fluidity so that it drapes beautifully. If you are spending a substantial amount on a handwoven heritage, it should be light yet extravagant. That is refined glamour,” maintains Singhania, showing a gossamer orange zari tissue Kota with motifs taken from Gujarat’s gharchola weaves.

The designer opines that the sari should complement the personality of the wearer. “Luxury cannot be in-your-face,” she maintains, adding, “Our saris can be teamed with different blouses, jewellery, jackets and shirts for an edgy spin.”

Singhania’s inspirations are Indian at heart but she has also toyed with new patterns. There are parrots, dumroos, chrysanthemums and various old motifs woven on the gethua fabric, using the minute kadhwa technique, but it is her offbeat designs that steal the show.

We notice a white, cyan and lemon yellow Benarasi inspired by the tartan checks. The Gajanan sari in purple has a zari border with four rows of elephants woven near the pallu. “These are limited edition pieces,” says Singhania, pointing to the Pushkar sari, with camel motifs, which reflects her fondness for the vibrant spirit of Rajasthan. The Ashwamedh sari has horses woven all over. The inky Checkmate sari, with figures of the horse and king in an oxblood hue, is quirky yet glamorous. “Our saris glide with you; they don’t restrain you. As Coco Chanel famously said, luxury must be comfortable in order to be luxury,” Singhania concludes.

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