Paromita Banerjee’s offerings are quite like her, they get under your skin with their sagacious charms, as aut-winter 2015, for her is a celebration of Boro and indigo dyeing
By Asmita Aggarwal
She goes for heritage walks, photographs all her campaigns, does costumes for theatre and believes in the power of Part IIs in life. Not what you would traditionally expect a designer to do and this is why the petite Paromita Banerjee from Kolkata, kind of wins you over almost instantly. She will tell you, in a flash, that she has so many unsaid stories to narrate that she decided to revisit her 2013 line Boro, (a Japanese concept that uses patched textiles, mostly indigo dyed, a 17th century tradition followed by peasants), which is now gaining steam.
Boro II, the title of Paromita’s aut-winter 2015 offering has also emerged from her love for recycling and upcycling. “I made hand-made paper out of fabric, which I converted into book covers, we also made buttons, latkans (hangings), and used the Kanguri technique (triangular seams to join two sheets of fabric) excessively, done all from scrap. Scrap became precious for me and it was making beautiful things out of nothing,” she explains.
She has also taken the leap of faith and continued her journey with indigo dyeing, which began with her trials with Ajrak last season and this line includes Bagh printing (traditional hand block prints from Madhya Pradesh), which she has dexterously combined with patchwork elements. The collection is neatly bracketed in four parts—patchwork, textured khadi, quintessential Lal Par (Bengali saris worn during Durga puja) and a combination of different weaves harmoniously blended together (matka silks, zari, linen, tussar woven in a manner that what emerges has an endearing texture).
“I have clients, who come from the UK and say that they want to wear a kurta or a sari, but not the conventional way, rather in a more global manner so that it does not overtly display their Asian identity,” she admits. So Paromita made her kurtas leaner, the sari became a kind of skirt with the pallu wrapped around the neck, like a stole and it was completed with a jacket. “The idea was to break the Indian-ness without losing the essence, I saw Michelle Obama wearing one and I thought why not twist it around a bit,” she confides.
Remaining loyal to the clusters that she has been working with, Paromita, still sources from Sally Holkar’s Women Weaves, Khadi from Gujarat and Bagh from Kutch and of course, West Bengal’s organic cotton which have been converted into a whole bunch of separates, which are not cut close to the body. “I have never made voluminous clothes, and neither hip ones for 22-year-olds, I don’t follow trends, or make Anarkalis, and I don’t do pink; rather I like fabric manipulations. I have observed that classic styles sell better than ‘chatak ones’ in my five years in the business of fashion; I try to do universal, multi-season ensembles, like quilted cotton jackets that you can wear in light winters,” she concludes.