Indian by choice for AIFW – SS’16

Shalini James for AIFW SS'16

‘Indian by choice’ is a line of clothing predisposed to rebellion from the start, since it was originally inspired by the civil disobedience movement. So, this season too, we take on western imperialism — albeit of a different kind.

The fashion zeitgeist has been ruled by western colour names from days beyond recall. A designer’s savoir faire rests on her ability to use colours to her advantage and spring surprises on a discerning audience. Many years ago, fresh out of design school and caught in the turbulence of these confusing swirls, I could barely spell chartreuse, pronounce cayenne or visualise celosia. Colours inspire, colours heal and colours soothe, they said very grandly. But wisteria left me bewildered, sangria confounded and puce disgusted. Bravely persevering on, I’ve knelt at the high altar of cerise, paid my respects to the desert sage, and nodded obsequiously at the resurgent pink champagne. The journey has had its moments. I’ve rubbed shoulders with the neo-luxe marsala, hung out with the easy-breezy canary and tangoed with the uber-trendy tangerine.

However, for all my persistent efforts over the years, these deracinated hues, alien to tongue and heart refused to strike a chord with me. Therein began my quest for colours native to my soul; a pastiche of shades that stoked my imagination and fired my creativity, with a tableau vivant of our land, its people, and gods. If Krishna is blue, then Rama is green, a glorious samundari green. Borrowing from flora-fauna, culture, myth and legend alike, a palette older than time itself was brought back to life for this collection. Anar is a blushing pomegranate; kamal, a pink slightly shy of red; gulabi is the shade of a full blown rose; jamun, a dark purple; even a bold Rani, who balks at the need for an introduction. Paeans have been written about Shakunt— the blue jay, Pushkar — the mythical blue lotus, and Neel, so reminiscent of Bengal’s blue rebellion. There! A semi-precious firozi flashes it’s brilliance as ambar of misty skies flaunts a song in its praise.

Kumkum, mehendi and haldi– resplendent marks of bridal splendour carry in their bejewelled potlis, tradition and hope. Another trio — the orange sentinels of good health — santari, gajari and kesari reel back to make way for a twirling, hot jalebi.  The stately saleti is a grey matched in demeanour only by the venerable badami brown. The sensuous black kohl smoulders far more than its sound-alike, and the solemn chhaya stands overshadowed by none. But bedazzling everyone is the luminary of the grey scale- malai white, for, a humble matka in one of the world’s oldest cities, brimming with rich, creamy swirls of goodness, has enraptured my senses. The gossamer texture of its contents – feather-light on the tongue, its heavenly fragrance, evanescing even as it wafts in, and a melt-in-mouth taste, completed my search for soul-aggrandizing colours from the heart of India. Now tell me, dear friend, does ecru do the same for you….?


Shalini James

Oct 2, 2015.

To view the ‘Indian by choice’ look book, please click here.


Shalini James for AIFW SS'16 Shalini James for AIFW SS'16  Shalini James for AIFW SS'16


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