A purist, Pratima Pandey detests textile blends and displays her unabashed love for florals and chanderi, this Aut-winter 2015
By Asmita Aggarwal
‘Prama’ or a beautiful woman with intelligence, (in Sanskrit), suggested by her sister (which in 2008 was a cool short form of her name) seems like an apt epithet for Pratima Pandey’s label, as she has been relentlessly working to maintain, “the purity of textiles” hoping to dissuade people from pushing blends, a concept she believes takes away from the basic tenants of weaves.
“Textiles are a way of life, not a fad, though my detractors say that it is important to blend so that shapes and proportions can be managed effectively,” she laughs.
Moved after watching a BBC documentary on weaver suicides in Varanasi, Pratima worked with Uma Prajapati of Upsana Design Studio in Auroville. Here she was exposed to the most sprightly Benerasi textiles and she undertook a soulful project that was empowering skilled communities languishing due to inadequate work. “We did a show in Paris and sourced work from foreign companies bringing it back to weavers and helping families sustain the onslaught of modernisation and mechanisation,” she explains.
Both educating and liberating, Pratima realised that this was her true calling and a post graduation from NIFT, Delhi enabled her to get initiated into the design process. Layering is her unconscious strength and Chanderi her weakness, so this aut-winter 2015, she has mixed several admirers—- Sanganeri and Bagru prints using natural dyes and hand block printing. “I have also included different forms of embroidery in this—-from Phulkari to Parsi embroidery to dabka. I have an ongoing love affair with florals, so that is suitably represented in my line too,” she smiles.
Keeping the Indian body in mind, and using herself as a shape shifter, Pratima believes that what looks good on her, will eventually sell. “Many people are afraid of layering, it can bulk you up, but on the flip side it can also hide your flaws,” she adds. Courting basic silhouettes, Anarkalis have found favour, along with straight kurtas even though women come to her with annoying requests for jumpsuits and skirts.
This season, she plays with the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi, that stays true to human evolution and impermanence, announcing that flaws are actually beautiful. “The line is a celebration of this mature, profound concept where you are breaking traditional values of what we think is attractive. Even rusting an ageing process is endearing, as it shows time and nothing can replicate it. For me, it is a state of mind, and I have taken the concept metaphorically that all things are beautiful, you just have to train your eye to find that innate charm,” she says.
The future is not about expansion for Pratima, rather it is about making films to show the process of weaving, to educate those interested in journey, than just the final catwalk product.