October 10, 2013 Asmita Aggarwal

Textile Tales

Caroline Poiner of Artisans of Fashion reveals why weaves must be preserved and what fascinates her about India…

Caroline Poiner’s father was a textile agent who used to visit India and take back riveting stories about the country. That was her first introduction to a country she has been living in for the past 12 years. Caroline launched Artisans of Fashion, hoping to celebrate and revive the lost art of handlooms paying a tribute to the amazing craftsmanship and technique.

Caroline’s idea fructified on Aug 15, this year, when AOF was launched in Sydney hoping to boost strong ties between India and Australia and helping textile artisans find a livelihood. “Textiles play a big role in high fashion—couture as we all recognize it. We approached Australian cricketer Brett Lee, who I knew was quite popular in India to be the brand ambassador of a limited edition of scarves titled Six Stitcher (a cricketing term). I knew Brett with his celeb status could make this whole project fly. I approached his PR agent and Brett was happy to be a part of this as it was also about helping women weavers. These scarves have been hand-loomed by the Panchachuli women weavers in the Himalayas (Kumaon),” says Caroline.

Panchachuli women weavers almost 800 of them now was united by a single force—Mukti Datta, (half Belgian-half Indian), who urged them to find a way to make a living by learning how to weave. “All the scarves are in seven colour waves and done using pure Merino wool in association with Woolmark,” she adds.

Caroline is hoping to use the funds she generates from this project to help start another in Uttarakhand next year to rehabilitate tribals teaching them how to spin yarn. “Hand-woven scarves is what we want to do and hopefully we will succeed. We also helped develop a fabric for the Australian label Romance Was Born using silk by blending modern designs with traditional techniques. I will be taking Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett with me to Varanasi to meet the weavers who have woven eclectic designs for the Dalai Lama too,” she smiles.

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