New York based designer Afshan Durani’s brand works towards the betterment of Indian artisans even as her designs lend a contemporary feel to all things historic and antique. We get her to take us through her Lost City.
What is the idea behind Lost City?
Lost City was founded with the goal to create sophisticated, urban design, by employing ancient embroidery techniques on the verge of extinction. Our products synthesise artisanship, unique design, and environment-friendly production techniques with ethical business practices.
After studying at design in New York, what drew you towards the embroideries of India? What kinds of embroideries are you trying to revive in particular?
While working in the garment industry on 7th Ave, New York, I made a fabric-sourcing trip to India, and discovered the Lucknow artisans (where Lost City workshops are now based) by accident. Inspired by the exceptional craftsmanship, and appalled by the decrepit work ethos of the artisans, I decided to breathe new life into the fading tradition. Lost City artisans focus on embroidery techniques that date back to the Mughal rule in India (16th-18th century).
Presently, how many artisans do you work with? What do these artisans specialise in? Are all your products hand-made by craftsmen in India?
Lost City produces collections that focus on home and fashion accessories. For each category, there are 20-25 artisans at any given time. Most of our artisans are skilled in hooked needle embroidery and zardozi. And yes, every product is hand made in India.
Your scarves and clutches (available in India) have interesting names. What’s been your inspiration behind sequined pieces?
Rock ‘n’ Roll, punk and psychedelia influence the ElectricPunk collection of scarves and clutches. Steel zippers, safety pins, hooks, snaps, plastic buttons and rubber washers, are hand embroidered into brilliant coloured metallic sequins.
Your inspiration is varied — from forensics to Persian poetry. What has managed to grab your interest at the moment?
Everything Goth, and flowers! Variety is the key to keeping the customers hooked onto the brand.
Available at: www.firstrow.in