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Enticing block prints

Traditional methods of dyeing on modern designs lent the Aida show a different look


LACK OF striking colours — that is what hit the eye at "Aida", an exhibition-cum-sale of Chennai-based designer Anshuma Damani's creations. Since all the dyes used were natural, you had a range of earthy hues, but not of the jarring kind.

Pomegranate skin lent its red colour, while indigo leaves were used to get various shades of blue. Turmeric bulbs rubbed off their yellow on the fabric, while rust was powdered to get that perfect shade of brown.

Fabrics used included Maheshwari, cotton crepe, tissue, georgette, chiffon and kosa silk. The block printed fabrics really impressed. After an arduous process that includes washing the fabrics in the river that runs through Baagh (on the Madhya Pradesh-Gujarat border), drying them, immersing them in dye-coloured boiling water, and finally block-printing them using age-old motifs. The entire process takes about four days.

Later, if needed, value-additions like sequins, ghota work, embroidery and kundan work are worked onto to the fabric.

This ensured that while the basic fabric retained the traditional look, the final product catered to modern tastes and lent a distinctive look.

The range on offer included salwar-kurtas (Rs. 650 onwards), sarees (Rs. 600 onwards), kurtis, tops and fabrics. Asked if the colours would last, Anshuma said the colours bled in cotton fabrics, but did not leave a stain.

This was Anshuma's first showing in the city and Sulochana Malhotra of Pralochna said the public response was "good."

But are two days not simply too short a time for an exhibition of fabrics not usually seen in this part of the country?

"If there is demand, we plan to stock her designs through the year," she added.

SUBHA J RAO
&
LAKSHMI LUND

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