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Let's go Kota

Vidhi Singhania's designs in Kota are on display in New Delhi this Saturday.



CRAFT COUTURE: Neha Dhupia in a Vidhi creation.

WITH MORE and more designers finding inspiration in the richness of past, the present of fabrics like khadi, chanderi and Kota seems bright. This Saturday, designer Vidhi Singhania will exhibit her summer collection in Kota weaves at The Oberoi hotel.

Ideal for Indian climate, the textile owes its origin to Kota in Rajasthan. Maharaja Bhim Singh of Kota brought some weavers from the Deccan in the early 18th Century and the craft blossomed under the royal patronage. "Kota has 20 per cent silk input. It gives the fabric the sheen and an edge over its cotton counterparts," says Vidhi, known as a crafts exponent in the fashion fraternity. The warp and weft use a combination of threads creating a fine chequered pattern (Khat) where the cotton portion provides firmness while the silk lends a gossamer finish to the fabric.

Vidhi agrees the crafts in their designer avatar have a very limited reach. "Most crafts have survived because of the patrons. I want to design for a select few who understand the effort that goes in this work, who realise the difference between the results of a power loom and handloom. Even if there is small edition to my clientele every year, I am okay."

Needs promotion

At the same time Vidhi emphasises the fabric needs to be promoted among youngsters. "They need to be educated about the fabric, particularly the comfort factor and the options now available in the market. It holds very well. Essentially meant for summers, increasing the percentage of silk has now made it possible to be worn till November. Also, it is a traditional art that needs to be preserved. A heavy Kota brocade done with gold threads can take a weaver upto four months."

Vidhi is playing both the roles with gusto. While her collection finds an outlet at Raymond's prêt label Be:, she is keeping the handlooms busy in the dusty bylanes of villages around Kota. "We name the saris after the women in the weaver's family. Earlier I used to think I need to diversify after a few years but now I feel there is so much to be done in Kota with Kota."

Showcasing some 550 pieces in the exhibition, Vidhi's collection primarily includes sari, which has always been her strong point. "This time the theme is flora and foliage. I have given leaves various forms. The colour palette is dominated by orange, shades of pink, aqua, coral, and of course off-white. There is subtle use of embellishments like zari borders." For the young there are casual outfits, party dresses, churidars. "I am making a foray into home furnishings and accessories as well. Handbags, pouches (potlis) and scarves will be on display."

ANUJ KUMAR

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