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Come fashion week and we've somewhere got used to unapologetic embellishments, statements like 'blending traditional and modern', and now even the understated and flared outfits - the anti-structure of the garment construction doesn't surprise us. However, what we are not used to, is seeing a fabric that's been there since ages but not yet mainstreamed or much experimented with. For instance, when Anavila Misra decided to make sarees out of stiff but breathable linen fabric, her idea was met with a warm welcome. Soon enough, we saw a huge market for linen sarees. The fabric is light and breathable - perfect for Indian summers. If we rewind a lot more, Coco Chanel was moved by the simplicity of stripe patterns on sailor's uniform and as a result, she used the same stripes pattern into her 1917 collection and found clientele in celebrities including Audrey Hepburn and Jane Birkin.
On the day 1 of the ongoing FDCI x LFW, somewhere between brocades and bold hues of other designers, Pondicherry-based designer Naushad Ali made us notice Chettinad checks. It was a slow, eco-friendly - a quiet, earthy collection that the designer presented but those checks added a touch of drama, a sense of playfulness to otherwise a stunning but muted collection. Situated in Tamil Nadu, Chettinad region is particularly known for its food and architectural splendour but the Chettinad checks and stripes are equally famous and most commonly seen in sarees. But what Naushad Ali did is that he used the Chettinad check patterns and incorporated it into western silhouettes, thereby broadening perspective around these checks. The Chettinad checks part of his collection included a flared collared shirt, loose shirt, a trench, a gathered dress, and a resort-wear top, etc. So, why one should also talk about the traditional checks in his collection, apart from simply put, eye-catching factor about them, is that the designer made these homegrown checks, mainstream.
When designers take an indigenous technique, material, or outfit and present it to a larger market, they also encourage conversations around weavers and artisans, bringing them to forefront. They beckon the fashion connoisseurs to learn more, appreciate, and understand about the traditions and practices of other region - fostering cultural synthesis. This is what happened when Assamese designers, Sanjukta Dutta and Anuradha Kuli showed Mekhela Chadors via fashion weeks. Mekhela Chador - a two-piece outfit not only found relevance in other regions of the country but also made us think of the Assamese craftsmanship. Similarly, textile designer Gaurang Shah inspired us to think about Gujarat's Patola sarees and stories around it. So, is the case with Chettinad checks that Naushad Ali exhibited. He contemporized the existing design language and yes, we realized that something as rooted as Chettinad checks can find space in times, when pop-culture has a power of affecting our fashion choices. Moreover, who wouldn't want something as distinctive as his checked patterns, which he also teamed with other style of checks called, Pata-Pati checks!
All the outfits in Naushad Ali's collection were made out of 100% organic indigenous cotton and are naturally hand-dyed. While tailoring was done impeccably, the elements including shell buttoning and hand-embroidered detailing on one of his relaxed Chettinad clothing, also added significance to the collection.
Images Source: Naushad Ali's Instagram Page
Photographer Courtesy: Hunar Daga
Location Courtesy: VILLA SHANTI