Gaurang Shah


by KEERTHI MOHAN

INDIAN designer Gaurang Shah is set to bring the brilliance of his Jamdani creations to the UK with the opening of a label store in London in July.

Located in Notting Hill’s Ledbury Road, the store will feature Shah’s unique collections that
blend India’s centuries-old tradition of hand-weaving with aesthetic finesse. On sale will be
handwoven saris and dupattas (long scarves).

And it’s not just British Asians that he hopes to cater to. The Hyderabad-based textile designer, who is a regular at India’s Lakme Fashion week, wants to build a strong base among Westerners as well. He hopes to do this with the help of Indian Jamdani, an age-old
hand-weaving technique.

“Indian Jamdani has universally appealing factor,” Shah, 46, told Eastern Eye. “The consumption story is heart-warming as foreigners do appreciate its magnificence, choosing to wear them on special occasions. Especially those where they get to attend Asian weddings, social dos and participate in Indian festivities. We hope the trend goes beyond special occasions.”

The textile designer sees the Jamdani sari as a nine-yard canvas, with “limitless ability to disrupt design conventions and break creative boundaries”.

Besides India, the US has proved to be a good market for his designs, and he hopes to experience similar success in the UK.

Shah spoke of the “growing understanding of Indian Jamdani and its universal appeal”.

He has been working with Indian weavers for more than two decades, and his latest collection, Interlace, is an attempt to showcase Jamdani to the world. The designer explores the legacy of the ancient Indian technique, focusing on the period from the 1900s to the present day.

The purpose of the series, Shah says, is to showcase to the world the versatility of the Indian Jamdani art, and its artistic abilities.

He said: “I want people to understand how adaptable Indian Jamdani weaving is, and about our continuing relationships with Jamdani legacy today. There are limitless experiments, and new ways of challenging this status quo. That is what I am trying to showcase through Interlace series collections.

“Interlace answers many questions – What is it about ancient art that still provokes the contemporary imagination? How does it help us see classic weaving forms with new
eyes? The line of 41 different six yards fabric is a quest to rethink the ‘classical’ through the lens of the ‘modern’ and ‘contemporary’ which takes months and sometime more than a
year to create.

“My 41 interlace collections are ancient Indian Jamdani influences. I hope Indian Jamdani weaving technique will continue to draw admiration and awe for many years to come.”

A self-taught fashion designer, Shah counts Bollywood actresses Vidya Balan, Sonam Kapoor, Kiron Kher and Taapsee Pannu among his celebrity clients.

However, it was only in 2018 that he forayed into the movie industry. He made his debut as a costume designer with Mahanati, a movie that chronicled the life of legendary southern
actor Savitri.

He said: “It was a perfect debut to showcase Indian Jamdani’s exquisite weave to create
unique fusion of fabrics and textures, especially sari.

“Recreating the sensibilities of the actress, including elements such as the choice of
fabric types and the textures were immensely satisfying for me as a textile designer.

“Right from the beginning, what excited me the most was the opportunity to showcase
Indian saris in its fullest grandeur, with utmost simplicity through the journey of the legendary actress Savitri on the big screen.”

Shah’s future project, which he considers his most challenging yet, includes recreating 54 paintings of Raja Ravi Varma on saris.

The project is expected to be completed by October 2, to coincide with Raja Ravi Varma’s death anniversary, and the work will also be showcased in 16 different museums worldwide.