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A sari revivalist and proud advocate of handlooms, Anavila Misra recently showed her travel-inspired collection at the Lakmé Fashion Week Summer Resort 2019. Dipped in muted tones, her collection focused on the fluidity, sinuous folds, and the ever-changing language of modern women. The designer, who has broadened our perception about fabrics and popularised linen saris, elaborated on her latest collection and sustainable fashion.
The drapes and knots were interesting in your latest collection, which took inspiration from the local women of Sa Pa tribe. How fuss-free are your latest ensembles? Could you tell us about the specific drapes that you incorporated into this collection?
The women from the ethnic minorities of Sa Pa in Vietnam, use a lot of knotting and belting to keep their clothing fuss-free and mobile. The sari drapes for the SS 2019 showcase were inspired by this. The wrapping of the pallu around the waist and shoulder and knotting made the drapes more controlled. This helps in keeping the hands completely free and mobile. We have even used pallus to hold and carry things; it shows how you can make your drapes functional.
Fashion sensibility comes a lot with travel and experiences. There are certain elements about certain places that will inspire one and some may not. In this context, what was that particular aspect of Sa Pa women's fashion sense that inspired you? Did you have your doubts about the fact that whether the collection will be relevant in the Indian context?
The complete functionality combined with chicness is what is inspirational about Sa Pa women and their fashion. This collection is very much relevant in the Indian context as we have only applied the concept of Indian textiles and drapes. This only adds minimalism, comfort and mobility to the already existing elegance and style of Indian clothing.
What are the lessons on sustainability that we can learn from the women of Sa Pa? How rapidly is the slow fashion picking up in India?
Sustainability and responsible fashion is inherently a way of life for these women of Sa Pa. They grow or locally source there cotton and hemp, weave and dye it with their own hands. These are then hand stitched and hand embroidered and decorated. This way of life provides a lot for us to take away from. I strongly feel that where we stand in terms of our environment slow fashion is the only way forward for all of us. Sustainability is the way to go and presently there are a lot of designers and consumers collectively realizing this and making an effort for a greener future.
With more sustainable labels foraying into the market, do you think there should be a limit to it? Do you think there is a flip or downside to having more and more eco-friendly labels also?
We have just started working towards a slow and sustainable fashion in the last few years. There is a lot to do and I don't feel there is any flip side to this.
Do you think weavers today are more aware of the kind of outfits that modern women want?
With more and more designers directly working with the weavers, it helps them understand the current market trends. Also, social media and the digital age have brought ready accessibility to current fashion. A lot of exhibitions and events are organised by the government bodies regularly which exposes the weavers to the contemporary markets.
Do you think that the language of contemporary women has changed when it comes to fashion? Do you think there is a gradual shift towards the understated garments and people are becoming more fabric conscious or the eco-friendly awareness concentrated only in the niche sector?
Sustainable and ethical fashion is no longer a niche market; consumers today demand transparency, buy into a brand's entire identity and set of values and hence support environmental friendly brands. They are more conscious of their choices and what the repercussions of fast fashion are. In the long run, ethically produced garments are the future of fashion.
You have muses from the Indian film industry but your show was sans any Hindi film industry showstopper. Was there a conscious decision not to have one?
The showcase was purely about presenting our new collection and bringing focus towards the clothes; I did not want to deviate from that. We did have our friends from Bollywood in the audience supporting our work.