March 15, 2019 Asmita Aggarwal

The dot that went for a walk

Pooja Shroff connects the dots by reviving Batik from Java, Indonesia and preserving its originality and candour

By Asmita Aggarwal

There are many firsts for Pooja Shroff this year, her debut show at LMIFW’19 and her new store opening at MG Road which she calls a small, quiet retreat.

Four years into the business of fashion, Pooja from a reputed construction magnate family has both her hands dipped in gold, with her husband being in the premium education business. But the designing career is her space where she takes no help from either side of the family and runs it as a solo initiative.

After School of Fashion Technology, Pune, she went to study design at Parsons School of Design, New York. Working as an intern with Kenneth Cole and coming back home, she honed her skills under Sabyasachi Mukherjee.

“I am from Kolkata, I started my store there and believe it or not, I dabbled in Western wear at the beginning, which was short-lived. I got married and moved to Delhi. Though once a year, I do a pop-up there to keep the Kolkata story alive,” she explains.

The move to Indian and more so fusionwear was largely driven by commerce, as women here tend to spend more for a traditional outfit. At LMIFW 2019, Pooja has had many firsts, she has moved away from embellishments and taken up art, so Batik has become her semantics, this season. “I travelled to Jakarta last year and was consumed by the tie and dye Batiks I saw there. I wanted to give them a new dimension. Batik is derived from the word ambatik; ambameaning cloth and tik means little dot — ‘a cloth with little dots’. It mostly comes from Java with a heritage that dates back to 1,500 years meant only to be worn by royalty. It is done on cotton and silk and is a skill-based, manual wax-resist dyeing technique which is laborious and time consuming,” she adds.

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Ready-to-wear was the medium she chose as buyers today are looking at buying off the rack and being able to wear it. Pooja has indulged in collaborations to give a 3D appeal to her show. From Teal, with whom she is crafting customised shoes to go with her Batik offerings, she has also focussed on accessories. Rishma Lath of Crazy Palette has crafted trunks to round totes as an accompaniment to her dresses and trench coats, mostly separates, using the dot paintings of Jakarta.

“We have taken care of little details like the tassel laces we made by hand, dyeing the sequins or teaching our workmen the craft of making Batik here. We have developed embroideries using the same motifs (in the past there was Garuda, lotus, dragon and Tree of Life) that are emblazoned on the original fabric,” she adds.

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The palette is dominated by blacks and keeping autumn in mind, there are rushes of navy blue, gold, olives and chocolate browns with a splash of reds. “I’ve deliberately kept the silhouettes straight-forward to add a balance in the line. To do my bit for the environment we have made Batik fabric bangles from the waste katrans,” she concludes.

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