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`Chikan' at its best

The ongoing Chikan work sale at BTH, in the city, is rich in patterns, styles, fabrics and colours.

"CHIKAN AT its best is unaffordable," says Majnu Jalota who has been dealing in chikan apparel since the past 12 years. From being school teacher to dealing with artisans from over 40 villages around Lucknow and being awarded the best woman entrepreneur 2002 2003 by FICCI, Manju has done it all. It took immense efforts convincing artisans to trust her to provide them with good work and regular wages. She has also been conferred the `Bharat Jyoti' award in 1997 by the National Integration Society for having being the only Hindu woman to have worked in perfect unison with the Muslim artisans. "I was in a local artisans house at the time of the riots in 1996 and I have never felt safer!" she declares.

`Chikan in style'

After a pleasurable tenure with children she finds ultimate satisfaction in her newfound profession, which, according to her, is more challenging and ever changing. Her USP is "Chikan in style", as she prefers to call it. Her innovative patterns and designs completely change the face of the mundane chikan salwaar suits. Painstakingly embroidered, she has creatively used the age-old traditional form of needlework into trendy and contemporary styles. She has experimented the use of chikankari on various fabrics ranging from georgettes, chiffon, organza, maheshwari, kota, crepe bandhani and cotton. Her extensive chikankari exhibition - "Alankrit' - is a wide collection of saris, salwar suits, kurtis, trouser sets, chudidaar fabric, dupattas and gents kurtas. Her ensemble ranges from anywhere between Rs 900 to Rs11, 000.

Eye -catching

A combination of eye-catching embroidery on rich, colourful and stunning patterns makes the collection a definite stunner. She has flamboyantly used trendy colours like the burgundy, sea greens, purples, reds and bright blues making a definite deviation from the mundane pastel shades. Attention to details with interesting use of the mirror work, sequin, badla, mokash, beads, laces, appliqué work make each of her creation a collector's piece. A simple bandhani saree looks strikingly beautiful and elegant with a touch of chikankari along with mokash along the pallu and borders.

Keeping in mind the current trends, her ensemble comprises of kurtas of varied lengths. However, she feels that women in Kerala are more traditional and do not yet follow the fashion trends of the major metros.

With no formal training Manju keeps her artisans flowing with ample ideas to make the simple chikan even more appealing. "I go through related books and make detailed observations of the trends where ever I travel. This keeps me abreast with the latest in the fashion world," she says. Her exquisite designs have attracted clients from far away Mauritius to celebrities from the tinsel town.

For all those who believe in dressing elegantly in chikan it's worth a peek at Manju's "affordable for some" collection - `Alankrit' at the Bharat Tourist Hotel, DH Road, on till today.

S.J

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