Fashion Feature > Anavila
The Sari, six or nine yards of fabric that drapes women of any size, shape, height or region, can be worn in different ways – for work, play or to celebrate. Though still extremely popular for occasional wear, the everyday aspect of the sari where one lounges in it as one would in a pair of jeans today, is perhaps fading in urban India. And it is that which draws me to the handwoven Linen Saris by Anavila Mishra (NIFT) as she wills us to spend our days in them. Her decision to not embellish or add details that were not of the material seems to enhance the saris even more. The patterns are subtle and the use of colours is gentle. A sense of easy flow prevails.
Anavila also experiments with botanical inspired applique work – she loves nature, wild flowers, twigs, fruits, leaves and trees – and brings all that she sees into her work. The fabric used to create the botanical applique work is dyed and gives the work a sense of shadow and light, of different shades in the same form. It was a delight to see them. Sharing what she does.
In conversation with Anavila Mishra.
Indian By Design: What was life like growing up? What did you go on to study?
I had a normal middle class upbringing with two vacations in a year to my ancestral village, and most of the play time spent in the kitchen garden with my father and siblings. I think it bought me very close to life and plants which is truly the inspiration for all my work. I did my post graduate from National Institute of Fashion Technology in knitwear design. I worked with leading Indian design studios/Madura garments and Wills lifestyle for 4 years.
Indian By Design: How did you decide to pursue the work you do today?
I received a call from my faculty in NIFT who knew my keen interest in Indian crafts and textiles for a craft cluster based project , sponsored by Ministry of Rural Development , Govt of India. I worked on the project for its three year tenure as a project manager and consultant and thats when I could go back to the mainstream and slowly started working with the artisans I had interacted and worked with on the project. Ilong to create products which are craft based but completely contemporary…showcasing the skill set in the language people today understand and admire.
For the saris I work with weavers in varanasi…but again wanted to work on a sari that I would love to wear all the time and hence the linen saris…believe me I can’t wear any other material when it comes to saris ever since I wore my first linen sari, though I design and work on cotton silks and silks too.
I’ve been working with women from tribal areas of Jharkhand for the last few years and their lives have inspired me to work more with them, for them..they lead self-sustained lives today supporting there families and looking after there kids. The botanicals are all result of my interactions and workshops with them. We are planning to start with education and vocation for girl child / orphans and widows in this area…hopefuly this year.
Indian By Design: The linen saris are lovely and simple with no embellishments and minimal additions. What thoughts guided you to keep it so?
The beauty of the linen sari is its simplicity. If i do too much with the design the beauty of fabric will hide itself. I wanted saris for people like us who want to wear it like they wear a linen shirt – chic and contemporary, and move it away from the traditional realms of “THE SARI”.
Indian By Design: On botanical prints – do you work with images of local flowers or are they imaginary.
On botanical prints , we actually work with whatever we mutually fall in love with…started with the first workshop in a biodiversity garden and hence had Guava, Bougainvillea, Neem , Papaya , Banana as our first few attempts. Then went to references of old English botanical prints and loved the details in each one , always attempted to capture the essence of the flower and tree in someway or the other. As it is fabric we are dealing with, the flow is limiting after a while but to play in this restriction and take to simple embroidery detail sometimes does the magic. We also make plants from our recollections of what’s around us like a swangan/rumstick tree or the kagaj baha/bougainvillea… baha is for flower and dari for tree in santhali.
I take a lot of inspiration from streets, I walk a lot and capture trees and plants all the time. I encourage the artisans also to put their thoughts and what they see on paper, making little scrapbooks.
Indian By Design: What is the current scenario of the Indian textile sector as you see it and what in your opinion is the way for the future?
A lot is happening as far as Indian Textiles are concerned. Most of the young designers are going back to Indian Textiles and creating their own identity with their treatments, the crafts people and weavers are much more aware and experimenting a lot, it’s a beautiful time to be in this sector as far as new developmentsare concerned.
I am hoping that more young designers start working with the weaves and take them to their real potential. I do respect the past heritage and beauty of traditional weaves but I feel there is a strong need to create something more contemporary, in the real sense for a worldwide audience.
Photographs courtesy Anavila. To see more of Anavila Mishra’s work, visit her facebook page here.
Filed under: Indian Craft, Indian Fashion | 11 Comments
Tags: Anavila Mishra, Botanical Applique, Handwoven linen saris, NIFT