Staying true to their roots
Monica Shah and Karishma Swali’s names are synonymous with Jade, the designer label they launched in 2008. In a span of six years, the brand, which is known for its anarkalis, sarees and lehengas, boasts of a clientele which includes celebrities such as Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra and Nargis Fakhri among others. The designer duo, who launched their couture studio in the city on December 18, has always believed in making ancient crafts relevant to the modern times. Their latest Fall/ Winter collection, Temples of Hoysala, takes inspiration from the ancient temples located in Karnataka.
Excerpts from an interview with the duo:
Designers Karishma and Monica.
Q. What made you choose Temples of Hoysala in Karnataka as inspiration for your collection?
A. As part of our research for the collection, we visited the Temples of Hoysala along with other wonders of South India such as the Jain Saint Bahubali in Shravanabelagola, the largest monolithic sculpture in the world. Both the temples are a few 100 kilometres apart, yet, they display two diametrically opposite design philosophies. While
we explored the Temples of Hoysala, we came across huge statues of women with intricately carved jewellery and other accessories. The magnificence of the creation inspired us and we decided to surround our collection around these temples.
Q. You have used a dark colour palette for this collection as opposed to your trademark pastels, peaches and pinks.
A. We wanted to keep the sanctity and dignity of these monuments in place. Brighter colours would not have made an impact. Therefore, we used deeper and richer tones of plum and blues in varying textures to represent the carvings that envelop the Hoysala Temples. There is an unmistakable air of celebration when you are in and around the
temples and hence, gold and copper have been used on the darker tones to recreate the jewellery in the temples
and reflect the splendour.
Q. What are the textures, fabrics and silhouettes used in this collection?
A. The collection comprises anarkalis, lehengas, fusion gowns and saris. We have used fabrics such as organic cotton, pure silk and hand woven laces. Appliqué work, hand embroidery in gold and copper recreate the hand carvings that envelop the temples on the fabrics. The silhouettes are flared at the bottom and narrow on the top in keeping
with the architecture of the temples.
A model showcases their collection
Q. What challenges did you face while designing this collection?
A. With an inspiration of immense historical importance, the biggest challenge was to do justice to the inspiration itself. Making outfits that showcase the quality of craftsmanship as seen in 600-year-old temples was challenging.
We feel that just one collection isn’t enough to do justice to the wealth of the temples of Hoysala, so we will dedicate our forthcoming couture collections to the temples of India at large.
Q. Many designers today work towards reviving hand craftsmanship. What sets your garments apart?
A. It is important that designers use the wealth available to them to make this craftsmanship relevant in
today’s instant, industrialised world. It becomes our responsibility to portray the craft in a new light, keeping its soul intact.