August 29, 2021 Asmita Aggarwal

Emotional Intelligence

Tradition and culture find roots in Anju Modi’s ode to woven crafts

By Asmita Aggarwal

She is known for her deep love for Indian culture, adopting and adapting Indian textiles and of course, courting 70 MM with her craft-soaked offerings. Maybe that’s why Anju Modi believes “smart working’ is better than indulging in a 100 meter race where you may win, but you are soon out of breath.

She may not belong to the gown flaunting generation dressing Hollywood stars, but she is much ahead in her thinking. Digital she admits has made her life easier, cut out wastage of money, and in a 5-10 minute film she is able to say a lot more, with the facility of pause, rewind and forward button giving ease to the end consumer to select what she likes. “Plus, it is life long, the details can be seen clearly, it is actually a blessing in disguise,” she adds.

“The Eternal Story” her collection once again talks about the role culture and tradition play in weddings and how it works in continuum. A grandmother passes on an heirloom sari to her daughter which in turn finds a way into her granddaughter’s trousseau. “It is frankly cyclical. What counts is that each piece has a memory attached to it which lives on forever, so when you give an outfit it is also the passing on of an emotion,” she reveals.

The same holds true for craft that a weaver teaches his son, it holds within its nerve center 2,000-year-old secrets, if you look closely at the Mughal jaalis or bootas, made skilfully by hand, they are done following a meditative process, Anju confesses. “Our classical music is still relevant whether it is Ghalib or Amir Khusrao’s verses and I’ve noticed the younger generation now enjoying it even more. Music, craft, dance and textiles are all interconnected, still pious, they are modern yet classical. The same rule applies to the haldi and sangeet ceremonies or the pheras around the holy fire,” she explains.

Weddings have seen a sea change, they are more “value-for-money”, less pomp and show, more intimate, ecologically beneficial and all about a loving family. “This year I have done what I love, my weaves from Banaras, foil prints, chanderi, mul muls, cotton and silks have been extensively used,” she reveals.

Antique embroidery found their way on woven and rewoven duppattas, making outfits multifunctional, you can style and mix and match, revving up a simple khadi kurta with a embroidered duppatta. “Brides are happy to be free from the expectations of a big fat Indian wedding. They just want to look beautiful in my sindoori reds I did last year or even ivories,” she explains.

Thematically, the collection tells the story of a mother going back in time to remember when she was getting married; a flashback; the occasion is her own daughter’s wedding. Anju thought about shooting in Banyan Tree on the outskirts of Delhi to bring alive the 20 piece collection that she believes will narrate the story of ‘ensembles with feelings’ in a post-pandemic world which is in search of its roots.

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