Calling upon people to embrace their culture and heritage, acclaimed designer Ritu Kumar, who honoured the Banarasi weavers through her collection at the ongoing Lakme Fashion Week (LFW), said that there is nothing more precious and valuable in Indian textiles.
Titled ‘Varanasi Weaves’, the Padma Shri winner feels that the rich handloom industry of Varanasi is the USP of India.
“Textile and handloom are the USP of our country and our fashion. This is a great platform to showcase that the Banarasi weaves are not meant to be kept in our closets as antiques but be worn as glamorous piece of clothing and that is India’s couture today,” said Ritu, whose show was attended by veteran actress Shabana Azmi.
The designer, however, lamented the fact that the Banarasi weaves have lost its value and charm because it has become stiff.
“Not just stiff, the Banarasi weaves have lot of designs on it and a lot of gold. If the weavers go back to doing what their ancestors did then probably they will again find a lot of takers.”
Ritu’s initiative to honour Banarsi weavers is supported by the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India to revive the handloom weaving in Varanasi.
Her longtime friend Shabana commended the designer’s efforts saying, “We have been friends for a long time. I have greatly admired Ritu’s work and have learnt a lot from waft and weft.”
Shabana herself works very closely with weavers from Mijwan, her late father Kaifi Azmi’s hometown.
“Ritu Kumar has an ancient spirit in her. She has absorbed all the culture and heritage within her. What I like most about fashion now is that we are going to our roots and embracing it,” the ‘Arth’ actress said.
Making a show stopping entry was Bollywood beauty Aditi Rao Hydari, who looked stunning in a pink brocade sari, choli and gold churidar.
“It is very special for me to be here and walking with Ritu maasi (aunty) is a great feeling. I have always admired her work. My family supports handloom. I hope our generation also makes efforts to keep handloom alive. In our country we have a habit of not celebrating what we have and wait till others from outside of our nation celebrate something about us . I hope that changes soon,” the actress said.
Using old nakshas, Ritu recreated the collection of vintage designs at the show. Bringing back the beauty of motifs like Badami, Kyari, Shikargah and floral butis, Ritu showcased glittering gold and silver royal textiles to an applauding audience.
“I have been working in Varanasi for quite some time. When the Minsitry of Textile said that they would help us out, it was a great initiative and since then there is a lot more awareness about Banarasi handloom now. More such steps should be taken,” Ritu said.
The saree section was rich and lush in colour and form.
The gorgeous silks from Banaras were in gold and moga thread.
It was worn with avant garde halters, leggings, corset blouses, long sleeve velvet cholis.
The best part of the show was when politician-designer, Shaina NC brought the master weavers of Banaras to take a bow on the ramp along with Ritu, who were greeted with a thunderous applause.