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Reviving the magic of Rajasthan

Aug 19th 2015 at 6:49 PM

Chokhi Ghaba, two Marwari words signifying beautiful clothes, is the title of designer Gautam Gupta’s brand new collection as he is making an attempt to resuscitate the culture of Rajasthan. The idea is to showcase the kind of dresses which his maternal grandparent’s generation used to proudly wear during festivities but make the garments look modern to the Generation X.

Gautam, currently giving the finishing touches to his collection, says Rajasthani culture means different things to different individuals. “To me this culture is represented by vibrant colours, Rajwada-inspired embroidery, gotta embroidery, mirror work and bandhani saris. And it is these vibrant colours which make our collection appealing and eye catching. Rajwada borders are being remade using lighter embroidery material and dori work. Bandhani technique is being used for lehengas and will be further used for other Indian wear like suits and kurtas. It is being made in different patterns and not just typical diamond shapes.”

No guess there as Gautam is making a concerted attempt to go back to his roots. And in this exercise he has the blessings and expertise of his mother Asha, who has taken the first tentative steps in the world of fashion .

A model draped in Gautam Gupta's new collection.

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“Since childhood my mother Asha has been regularly travelling to Rajasthan. She has been soaking in the culture of the place, the ambience, observing garments of the locals and their mannerisms. The locals wear vibrant colours like orange and green which we have used in our collection. Rajasthan’s traditional tie and dye technique and gotta embroidery have been extensively used besides lehariya fabric. Since Marwar is part of Rajasthan, we have seen to it that the Marwari culture is presented in the same ambience in which my mother Asha was born.”

Pointing out that his mother’s family followed Marwari traditions despite shifting from their ancestral place, Gautam says she was brought up in Marwari culture even though she was born and raised in Akola in Maharashtra.

“My nana is from Nawalgarh in Rajasthan. He made sure that she wore vintage weaves. Despite having no formal education, she developed a knack for mixing two distinct fabrics to create an attire. It was unknown in those days. Our family encouraged her. She developed confidence and gradually moved on the next level by designing a set of saris for my sister while she was getting married. When she launched her label I was studying in Class XII but started assisting her as she could not speak a word in English. Later, I studied fashion from NIFT and have been working on the label since 2003.”

But Gautam, who is reviving traditional weaves, has given a contemporary feel to the collection. “A young girl does not like wearing an over the top dress. She would like vibrant colours but embroidery in the form of gotta patti would have to be done in a manner that the garment doesn’t remind her of her grandmother. So I am using French knots, which only a limited number of people specialise in. It is intricate embroidery. To make attires modern, I have used small geometrical patterns, cutting.”

Giving an example, Gautam says earlier Marwari women wore garments which were emblazoned with different arm forms.

“It used to be all over the dress but now we do in placement with geometrical patterns. The idea is to popularise art not only of the Marwar region but also the arts patronised by the local women, who got incredible exposure while travelling to different parts of the country.”

With Banarasi sari there is Western-style blouse. Instead of bandhini sari, there is bandhini lehenga.

“This lehenga has become a rage as it is worn by young women in sangeet. While Banarasi lehenga takes three months, bandhini lehenga takes eight months.”

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