In love with Benarsi

By Rajeshwari Kalyanam | THE HANS INDIA |   May 07,2017 , 02:06 AM IST

Designer Shravan and his love for vintage Benarsi manifests in the exquisite sarees that he has revived, some of which have made their way into actress Anushka’s wardrobe

(Picture used for representational purpose only)
(Picture used for representational purpose only)

Everyone, who has watched ‘Baahubali – The Conclusion’ cannot but rave about Anushka the lead actress, her acting and costumes in the film. For a film as monumental as this one, where Anushka portrays a royal princess, the promotional events held a lot of prominence. 

And, she turned out resplendently regal in exquisite Benarsi sarees. The pictures were everywhere on social media to be seen. All the sarees she wore for the pre-release activities were from the studio of Shravan Kumar Ramaswamy, a Hyderabad-based designer. 

She wore a pink closed border saree with ‘Three Petal Lotus’ motif that blots out the peacock head with its beautiful feathers in gold spread out in full glory, intermittently placed all along the saree giving it a unique richness. The soft Benarsi weave fell in neat folds making for an impressive wrap. 

Then there was this elegant sky blue saree that she wore for Dubai promotions. The open flower motif, the silver border went well with the blue making the tall actress look lean and beautiful. She also wore the white organza saree with floral embroidery, a take away from English era and the resplendent parrot green – a Kanchivaram that she wore for Chennai event. 

Anushka took to Twitter to openly proclaim that Shravan is one of her two favourite designers, the other one being Sabyasachi.  

Shravan is by far one of the most popular names in the design circuit, especially for his omnipresent designs in most of the big fat weddings from this part of the world. He has his sensibilities in place and strikes an amazing balance between understated luxury, elegance, and the client preferences, which too, the designer in his inimitable style has moulded over the years - the latter an achievement indeed. 

Quite in the know of the various South Indian traditions and rituals inside out, comes handy for him. As a designer who loves everything India, and with antique value, be it the handloom weaves of India or the embroidery techniques, Shravan has been investing a lot of time, energy and design capabilities over the years to study, and revive unique and ancient sarees. 

The last few years were especially spent with his new found love – “I have been working with Benarsi sarees a lot. I have travelled the length and breadth of India to acquire ancient heirloom sarees. I am obsessed with everything old – the older the better. I then seek expert help and curate the sarees and then spend a lot of time reviving the saree.”

No wonder each of his sarees have a story to go along with them. The parrot green saree that Anushka wore goes back to the Kakatiya dynasty when they did the first Brahmotsavam to Lord Venkateswara. The Peacock motif on her saree goes back to Mauryan traditions where the number ‘three’ had a special significance. 

“They preferred three children, three stones on a nose ring, the three petals of the lotus held a lot of importance to the Mauryans. The colour too goes back to the era,” shares Shravan. This, along with the sky blue saree is from his Vintage Benarsi Collection, “Ashtamangalyam’ - that celebrates the beauty and divinity of the female form. 

But what accounts to dedication is the way he follows it up with preservation, curating that takes up investment in terms of time and money, and in the end, revives them with such attention to detail and finish, that sometimes the revived saree outdoes the original in look and feel.  

“My mother complains that I spend all the money I make for my antique saree collection. But, I can’t stop myself. These days I am also collecting antique jewellery,” he shares. He continues to acquire exquisite silks once owned by the queens, royal families, princesses, rich zamindars, and samsthanas, and one day these rare sarees may find their way into the wardrobe of the modern woman, thanks to Shravan and his love for Benarsi.