Art and fashion seek inspiration from diverse fields. Here, the iconic motifs of the Art Deco style of architecture inspire the weave of the Maheshwari sari designed by renowned filmmaker and fashion designer Muzaffar Ali.
And the muse is the Manik Bagh Palace in Indore, designed in 1930. The collection is a tribute to Yeshwant Rao Holkar II, the Maharaj of Indore, who commissioned this decadent structure. The Holkar family has been patronising the Maheshwari sari weaving technique and in 1979, had set up the Rehwa Society to support the weavers of Maheshwar. Ali, a friend of Richard Shivaji Rao Holkar, has created this line for the Society. “Richard’s father was a great patron of the style in vogue of his time -- the Art Deco. I saw bits of it at the Manik Bagh Palace when I met Richard in the early 1970s,” says Ali. He informs us that he has been associated with Richard Holkar’s passion for the revival of this craft since the inception of Rehwa Society. “It conforms with my philosophy of Dwar pe Rozi society -- employment at the doorstep,” he says.
This style of architecture served as a stimulating point for Ali to create the Manik Bagh Collection. “Art Deco has been used as a device to create a pattern of geometric textures reminiscent of Manik Bagh in my collection. Weaving in Rehwa lends itself to the grammar of Art Deco. It was all about piecing it together with artistic sensibilities,” says Ali, who is equally famous for the Bollywood cult classic, Umrao Jaan. Ali feels that as a designer, working with the beautiful cotton silk fabric holds several wonders, “I love weaving. This is the mother craft, which offers numerous possibilities of expression. Rehwa, in Maheshwar, has been one of my earliest encounters with weaving. Hence, it has romance and nostalgia, which always opens new doors for the future.”
Usually woven, Ali has also implied near invisible and geometric prints that are textured and have a self-woven feeling in the collection. “They, by virtue of printing, soften the fabrics. And at no time does the surface printing come in the way of traditional features of the Maheshwari design idiom,” says Ali.
When we asked him about combining his two passions -- filmmaking and fashion -- he shares that he is currently occupied with his forthcoming feature film that will see costumes created using Benarsi weaves as were used in Awadh aristocratic circles. All saris cost `6,000.
On August 9, 11 am to 7 pm
At Artisans’, Kala Ghoda.
Situated in Madhya Pradesh, Maheshwar was the capital city during the earlier years of the Holkar reign. The region is known for the weaving of cotton and cotton-silk Maheshwari saris. The weave was popularised during the reign of Ahilyabai Holkar in the 1700s.