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Ethnic ensemble



Ethno's is for the bold and the flamboyant who can carry off halter-neck kurtas with a Puri Jagannath symbol embroidered on it. — Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

GHUNGROOS, WOODEN beads, shells, embroidery, mirrors, terracotta droplets... If you are excited by the thought of having all these on your clothes, Ethno's might stir you to shop.

Young fashion designer Rashmi Kurunji loves all things ethnic and decided to set up a store that's redolent with it all, starting with the store's decor. Imagine having a veena and a bullock-cart wheel hanging from the ceiling of the shop! Little handcrafted knick-knacks, lamps, dolls, and other stuff she's picked up dot the store. Paintings, metal bells, large colourful bead strings and Rajasthani puppets pepper the atmosphere.

But you really must have the panache and some guts to carry off some of the stuff she makes. How does a halter-neck kurta with a Kathakali face embroidered on it sound?

The embroidered centrepiece on the dress and the neck are two areas Rashmi enjoys working on. She's used motifs of the sun, Om, rangoli, Durga, Krishna, Puri Jagannath, chakras, trishuls and damarus and even couples doing dandiya. They're usually embroidered and sequinned for embellishment.

"My customers like these details in my clothes. My clientele is mostly teens and working women because the colours are bold and so are the concepts," says Rashmi. "Sometimes foreigners who come to my store appreciate my work more than Indians. But our people are now becoming more aware of our own traditions," says the young designers who has a large NRI clientele.

Hand-woven fabric is what she predominantly uses, blending patches of embroidery brought from Gujarat and Kutch with south cotton. She chooses colour combinations from Kanjeevaram saris to set off a good ensemble. Characteristic Worli tribal designs are another pattern she plays on. Surprisingly, Chinese and Egyptian motifs too find place on her kurtas sometimes.

While at Ethno's, watch out for the collars and necklines. Asymmetrical necks with thin trims of embroidery and mirror-work or flap collars with the insides Kutchi-worked are interesting. Halter and choker necks are other specialities, though one can't imagine such oddballs going well with something as traditional as the salwaar kameez. So are ethnic kurtas with noodle straps and spaghetti collars.

For the earthy ambience, even the clothes racks and hangers are made from bamboo. "We customise clothes for clients who have special requests," says Rashmi. Most of the sets are in the range of Rs. 700 to Rs. 1,200.

Most of the men who stood by and watched as their wives shopped often asked Rashmi why there was nothing for them. So she started another gallery for the guys and an Indo-Western casual wear section especially for the younger college-going crowd. This is a more sober section with earthy colours, retro styles and smart cuts. You find here crushed skirts, wraparounds, block-printed pants, kurtis, mix-'n'-match vegetable dye kurta-pajama-dupatta sets and so on. These clothes are in the range of Rs. 200 to Rs. 500. She also stocks a range of bags to go with the outfits. Ethno's is having a summer sale from March 1 to 15.

Ethno's is at 9, 80 Feet Road, R.T. Nagar. Phone: 23333373.

BHUMIKA K.

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