She is not just popular for her kohl-laden eyes and her clientele that boasts of illustrious names such as Maneka Gandhi, Princess Maha Al Sauduri of Saudi Arabia, Nita Ambani, Rani Mukerji and Juhi Chawla, among others.
Madhu Jain is someone who broke all traditional moulds when she established a classical elegant and sophisticated sense of aesthetics through her designs by making abundant use of authentic hand-woven crafts and influencing, rather dramatically, the art of Kalamkari, intricate Ikkat and Kantha art into her creations.
The designer, who is in her silver jubilee year of being in the fashion industry, is now set to showcase in Mumbai, textile-based ensembles and craft traditions, which she has worked on and restored and revived, over the last 25 years.
“For a long time there was nothing meaningful happening in Mumbai for me. There was no demand for textile-based ensembles, so I decided to focus on Delhi, where there was a huge market and appreciation for handcrafted and hand-woven products. Currently, fashion trends are looking at handcrafted and hand-woven textiles, and so, I felt it would be right to return to Mumbai with a bang!” says Jain.
While talking about her journey spanning over two-decades in the industry, though Jain was content with the awareness that young designers possess today, she regrets a few changes too: “The industry has become more focused, but less intuitive and spontaneous.
Business and commercialisation have taken over; designers today are more aware that they have to indulge in marketing along with their work. That is good, of course, but my generation who were part of the birth of the formalised fashion industry in India, cannot help regretting the loss of the spontaneity and fun that the fashion word meant at that time.”
Jain, who is credited with the revival of Nakshikantha and for the reintroduction of the Dhaka Muslin, has also been part of various projects that dealt in creating awareness about different arts and crafts. One such initiative is the Kashmir Project, which was about educating the world about the living arts and crafts of Jammu & Kashmir.
“I made presentations to various leading museums of the world such as The Metropolitan Museum, The American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Art and Design and The Ruben Museum of Art,” informs the Delhi-based designer. Not just this but her love for Jammu & Kashmir will find voice in a book written by her as well.
“It is called, Journey Into The Living Arts and Crafts of Jammu and Kashmir. It is an amalgamation of various presentations made to museums in New York and serves as a beginner’s guide to the crafts of Kashmir with images from the last Maharaja of Kashmir Dr Karan Singh’s personal collection,” says Jain.
Fashion week bug
Jain recently participated in her first fashion week in Delhi, ending her absence from the event for all these years, “The fashion weeks in India have become very powerful to ignore. It is huge exposure where everyone views your collections. It sets trends that people follow, and for a person focused on craft and textiles, it’s the ideal medium to convey a strong message, and provide focus on a dying out 2,000-year-old-textile and craft tradition. It is a big stage,” the designer admits.