Celebrating fabric with a modern outlook
Hyderabad-based fashion designer Sailesh Singhania showcased his new collection ‘Shaahana - The Royal Glory’ at Lakme Fashion Week 2019 in Mumbai. Bollywood actress Aditi Rao Hydari was the showstopper for Sailesh and showcased the splendour of the legendary Queen Gulnaar, the inspiration behind Singhania’s new collection.
His family has been associated with handlooms for nearly 125 years. He says, “I started working in my family business (Singhania’s, the saree store) for a decade understanding fabric.
As my education was very technical, which gave a thorough understanding of textiles but working really helped to gain knowledge about design, colour combination and cut. The label ‘Sailesh Singhania’ was created with the vision to promote sustainable fashion through the production of handwoven textiles and weaves, combining them with a unique sense of aesthetic for discerning customers. The ‘Sailesh Singhania’ line is all about luxury handloom sarees.”
Commenting on the inspiration behind his collection, Sailesh shared, “Shaahana chronicles the regal splendour and beauty of an enchanting empress. Our muse, ‘Queen Gulnaar’, was a fictional character, drawn from Persian legends, from the book ‘The Queen’s Rival’, penned by celebrated poetess Sarojini Naidu. The exquisite weaves, the glistening tissues and silken threads that adorned the queen, form the cornerstone of our creations.
The woven motifs on each saree are an imagined amalgamation of all her prized possessions and experiences; the mesmerising blooms from her garden, the beaming rays of the sun and moon that shone through her palace windows, illustrious art by the most adroit artists and creatures as whimsical as her beauty. Her creator, known by the sobriquet of the ‘Nightingale of India’, lends inspiration to our collection through her artistic work.
Her indomitable spirit that fought for India’s freedom, drives us to preserve the languishing art of handloom”. He further added, “Aditi with a royal lineage made for a perfect muse to unveil this collection on the runway”.
Singhania’s collection ‘Shaahana’ features a combination of age-old techniques like the Jamdani, combining it with Khadi, the fabric of our nation and embellishing it with intricate motifs inspired by modern Japanese art, thereby bringing a plethora of cultures and traditions together and culminating them into one final creation. The colours are a celebration of summer freshness, a coalescence of opulent whites and serene neutral tones intertwined with enigmatic gold threads. Each saree was woven painstakingly over a laborious period of over 8 to 12 months, to match the unparalleled beauty of our muse.
The royal Banarasi silk is assiduously woven with motifs inspired by the sun and the moon, the natural forces upon which life sustains and society thrives. The motifs embody nature and its interaction with the human race, like an orchestrated symphony of life in the weave. The Kanjeevaram silk sarees, that have remained a constant in every closet since the Chola and Pallava dynasty, are also revisited through this collection, celebrating the identity of the fabric with a modern outlook, tapping into its potential without tampering with its ethnicity.
“Our efforts lie in creating a sustainable world, wherein our artisans can thrive and are celebrated. This collection is a testament to our efforts, and we strive to bring to the fore the sheer talent that our weavers possess,” further shares Singhania.
India has a long tradition of excellence in making high-quality handloom sarees and fabrics with extraordinary skills and craftsmanship, which are unparalleled in the world, about this he says, “The intricate workmanship of the handlooms provides this segment with a unique identity of its own. This inherent strength of Indian handloom products is required to be promoted with new designs, colour combinations as well as design interventions for meeting the need of the market.” Hence the belief that the handloom by Singhania would be evolved based on high quality, socially and environmentally compliant product for catering to the needs of the high-end consumers looking for niche handmade products.
He believes in a holistic, integrated fashion, focusing on not only the garment but also the weavers that help create them. He works with close to 700 handloom weavers throughout the year, providing them with high-quality materials and better conditions to thrive in. He also supports 22 different clusters including the weavers of Pochampally, Gadwal, Uppada, Kota, Pranpur and many more. His work epitomises simplicity, with obsessive attention to detail, giving his collection a global appeal that remains passionately Indian.