Four Indian craftsmen get their due credit with their own collaborative show at the forthcoming fashion week in Mumbai
Shohel Khatri and Mohammed Yusuf. Pics/Dhara Vora Sabhnani
Creating collections by celebrating diverse Indian crafts has become the signature of several big-ticket Indian designers. Few however, have credited the master weavers and craftsmen as co-creators at their glamorous fashion presentations.
Sarfraz Khatri, Vikas Kumar and Lokesh Kumar Chhipa
The opening show on the sustainable fashion day at Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW) on Thursday will be a game changer though. Presented by Paramparik Karigar, an organisation that has long been promoting Indian crafts, the #Craftiscool presentation will see five design labels collaborate with four craftsmen and a community welfare project, giving them equal status as designers.
Bherulal Chhipa X Poochki
Bherulal Chhipa is a state award-winner (Rajasthan) who specialises in tie-and-dye, dabu and ajrakh printing. Currently under the weather, we meet two of his five sons, Vikas Kumar and Lokesh Kumar Chhipa at an ongoing exhibition by Paramparik Karigar. “Though we specialise in block printing, I started hand-painting with matchsticks, which is even more difficult. The pieces didn’t sell much; I lost hope and stopped designing. But when LFW approached us and showed interest in my style, I spent three months to hand-paint a saree, and create contemporary geometric prints in our signature hand block craft,” says 26-year-old Vikas. With renewed hopes, he and his father even developed new colours with the Poochki team, and are now raring to take it further.
Mohammed Yusuf X Vineet Rahul
A two-time national award-winner and UNESCO-recognised bagh printer from Madhya Pradesh, Mohammed Yusuf is nonchalant about his newfound designer status. “I have collaborated with designers in the past. But mostly, our name does not get mentioned at the show. The government has also approached us to teach the craft to more people by offering a monthly stipend. But the students should genuinely be interested in the technique to continue it in the long run,” he tells us. His sons, Bilal, Kazeem and Abdul Karim, ably assist him in his work.
Sarfraz Khatri X Verandah
Based out of Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai, Sarfraz Khatri is the fifth-generation member of his family continuing the tradition of hand block printing through his brand Pracheen. “Participating on a platform which is every designer’s dream is a big achievement. While this is a boost to us, the only way we can continue our practice is if the government provides enough incentive to the craftsmen to sustain their families so their children don’t opt for other professions,” Khatri tells us.
Shohel Khatri X The Pot Plant
“Like many other children of artisans, initially, I didn’t show interest in the profession. I completed my studies and was about to go to Australia to earn an MBA. I changed my mind though, and pursued a design course at Kala Raksha in Kutch in 2008,” says bandhani expert Shohel Khatri. Thanks to this course, he learned about new techniques and has specially created bandhini patterns inspired by the Japanese art of shibori, and the yin and yang concept (creating patterns using negative space) for the show.
Aranya Naturals X Rouka
A project by Srishti Welfare Centre (Munnar), Aranya Naturals works with 35 differently-abled adults to create pieces of naturally dyed fabrics. Sreejith Jeevan of Rouka has collaborated with Aranya for his collection, Into the Lotus Pond.
This season will also see a presentation by Craftmark featuring Phulkari: The Nabha Foundation and Sonal Chitranshi, Patchwork: Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti and Hetal Srivastav, and Lambadi: Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra and Anshu.
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