Weave logic from the East

As part of a two-day exhibition that begins today, Kolkata-based handloom weave label Bai Lou will exhibit over 250 handcrafted products

While Bengal might be known for food, music, culture and people, it also has a rich history of textiles. And bringing this woven history to the city is bai lou (the duo choose to refer to their label in lower case).

Rather than embellishing on a finished weave, bai lou weaves
sequins in their cloth

Formed in the summer of 2002 by husband-wife textile designer duo Bappaditya and Rumi Biswas, bai lou specialises in various handloom weaves of Bengal, with a contemporary touch.

"Typically, people associate handloom weaves with street activists. But we attempt to create contemporary products by using bright colours, variations in texture and creating new patterns by using different materials other than cotton.

These sarees can be worn at cocktail events or weddings," says Bappaditya over the phone from Kolkata, "And it is this change that helps us have a clientele of even actresses such as Aparna Sen and Kiron Kher," he adds.

As for their unusual name, the co-founder says that the word doesn't mean anything but surfaced while playing Scrabble with his wife. They felt that the sound of bai lou resonated their idea behind the brand.

Stoles in rich colours by bai lou

They didn't want a word that actually carried a meaning to it as they did not wish to be associated with any particular region. They wanted the brand to sound as unique as their sarees.

About their production process, Bappaditya says that they prefer to finish every product on the loom, "we don't use embellishments and try and tweak our method of weaving if we wish to add something.

For example, we use sequins but we make little pockets between our weaves to trap the sequins rather than working on the finished product." Even with the famous Jamdani sari, bai lou gives it a modern touch with a transparent pallu.

"At first, when we approached weavers they did not want to incorporate the changes. They felt our ideas were too radical and not be marketable in the long run. But they slowly warmed up to it and we now have around 500 looms working for us," explains Bappaditya.

As for the exhibition in the city they will showcase over 250 pieces of sarees, scarves, stoles and dupattas in different cottons, silks, mix of cotton and silk, wool and even linen. They will also introduce a few pieces of Andhra's Telia cotton saris; their first experiment with weaves outside Bengal.

Mira Sagar, owner or Vaya, the store showcasing bai lou's pieces says, "Bombay lacks space where one can see handwoven products with an edge under one roof. bai lou's products have that edge and that's the reason why I wanted to exhibit bai lou."

Cost Rs 800 onwards
When January 20 and 21
At Vaya, SV Road, Bandra (W)& Naoroji Gamadia Road, Cumballa Hill.

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