March 14, 2019 Asmita Aggarwal

Harvesting Hues

Preparing to dye her fabrics in natural colours minus any chemicals, Shalini James displays her botanical prowess, while Sahil Kochhar pays homage to appliqué, sewing many moods of grandeur

By Asmita Aggarwal

The beauty about speaking to Shalini James, a Chennai-based style aficionado is her commitment to the craft and the willingness to be silent solider in the burgeoning fashion army.

Developing prints and working with Jaipur block printers has been her design aesthetic for the longest time. This year, for LMIFW’2019, she adapted a traditional technique on a modern fabric, which was earlier restricted to only cotton and silks. Made from wood pulp, Liva, it seemed synonymous with the forest theme that she has worked with, complete with foliage prints.


“While designing I always look at the end consumer, I believe Indian-style tunics and saris can also be crafted out of the Liva fabric which we have attempted, in keeping with its suppleness,” she admits. James has been working with Bagru for the last 15 years and her ideology is centred on vegetable dyes.


James came for the first time to India Fashion Week in 2015, and then again in 2016, the floods in Cochin kept her away last year. “Geographically I may be distanced from fashion, but not thematically,” she explains.

Liva show also saw Sahil Kochhar display his prowess in turning the Liva fabric into something magical. The collection is Western in terms of silhouette, and is for the free-spirited, experimental and modern woman. It has a large element of mix and match, in terms of fabric, colour palette, styling and the motifs that are consistent throughout the line. “Mix and match ties in my collection together. Whether it is pairing ash pink with a navy blue, a T-shirt with pleated trousers, waste fabric appliqued over LivaEco fabric, mix and match is present not only in the output, but also throughout my design process,” he says.


The line will include tops, shirts, t-shirts, jackets, trousers and skirts. This is a collection of plenty and the jackets include a variety of options to choose from — full jackets, shorter ones and even a trench. “The garments are made to be comfortable, without compromising on the formal aspect of it. Think a shirt collar exposed from underneath a T-shirt, paired with a trench and pants.


Sahil is also planning to do bags and hopes to be able to execute that with very little time on his hands. It will complement the collections functional, ready-to-wear approach. “We had a lot of leftover fabrics from our previous collection. These were are cut off the garment while being made, and are about half-a-metre, which is too small to make even a single piece. I’ve used these pieces on top of Liva Eco fabric to do applique, maximising its usage to over four garments,” he explains.

Typically, when left over pieces of fabric from previous collections are reused, they are patched together to create something. Sahil wanted to take a different approach, and thought, why not apply the technique (applique) that has become his brand’s identity.

“The beauty is in the details. We have stuck to what we do best, which is our signature piping. Elements that undeniably add to every look are the applique, edgings on the hemline and printed linings,” he adds.

Telling the story through softer and solid colours, the moodboard in totality is subdued. Navy blue with a pale ash pink, a yellow that is a tone lighter than mustard and ivory, the idea is to keep it earthy, soft and unobtrusive.


“To be sustainable goes beyond just what you’re wearing, it has to be imbibed in every aspect of your lifestyle. And no step towards that is a small one. There are a lot of things that we can do without, and we should work towards making that change. As a designer, sustainability means to make any change I can within my environment. From reducing the amount of plastic that comes into the office, to staying away from using polyester in my designs I do what I can to contribute in my own way,” he concludes.


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