Monday December 10, 2018

Northeast designer eyes Milan, Paris after London Fashion Week


New Delhi: She hails from Arunachal Pradesh, stays in Assam, and is making a headway internationally by showcasing the handloom prowess of culturally-rich northeastern India. After displaying her tribal creations with a modern twist in London, Yana Ngoba is now eyeing the runways of global fashion capitals Paris and Milan.

Ngoba presented her collection in collaboration with designer Nabam Aka, also from Arunachal Pradesh, as a part of the London Fashion Week’s off-schedule show Fashions Finest. And the 28-year-old is thrilled with the response.

“Our collection highlighted the northeast region’s handloom, especially the loin loom made in Mizoram, Manipur, Arunachal, Nagaland… even muga of Assam. We used them to create gowns, dresses, skirts and ornaments.

“People (in London) loved it. They couldn’t believe people in India could be so different,” Ngoba told IANS in a telephonic interview from Guwahati, where she is based now.

She said that the buyers associated Indian fashion with only saris. So they were pleasantly surprised when they saw her bright-coloured range of apparel in the form of gowns with slits or deep neck and skirts with jackets paired with accessories and ornaments made of bronze, silver, old Indian coins and bamboo canes.

“People in London asked me ‘Which country are you inspired by?’ I said ‘India’. So, they were confused. They said that they have always seen people wearing saris (in India). I said ‘No. We are from northeast India and have a different culture’.


“We even showed pictures and videos on our culture. Most of the things were sold out. We also got orders in bulk,” said the designer, who has been in the industry for over a decade.

Ngoba, who had showcased her creations at another fashion week in Britain last year, now wants to explore other international markets.

“Milan Fashion Week is not yet confirmed. But I’ll make sure it is. It is a dream. Fashion comes from all the big cities like London, Milan and Paris; so we thought of hitting those ramps first,” she said.

A regular participant in northeast festivals in the country, she says Indian fashion weeks can wait as she would like to get a taste of the international platform first.

“When I see Indian fashion weeks, most of the fashion designers focus on international fashion… like evening wear or dresses. So, I thought that maybe we should do international fashion shows first,” she said.

People from northeast are considered to have a distinct sense of style and often, their fashion seems to be influenced by western trends.

“We get things mostly from Bangkok if they are not our traditional attire. If you notice, since our forefathers’ time, fashion has been important to us. They were always decked up from head to toe… be it headgear, ornaments or colourful clothes. That’s our personal style… something different from the rest of the world,” she said.

Any fashion picks from the northeast region?

“Maybe you can start with the jewellery pieces. The ones made with coins will go well with sari or salwars too,” said the designer, who wants to work with more weavers across the country.

(By Natalia Ningthoujam, IANS)

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National Handloom Day To Be Celebrated On August 7

India's handloom industry, unlike several other sectors, is innately environmentally conscious and responsible. It also provides artisans with a sustainable means of income in their villages.

National Handloom Day is on August 7. Flickr

Gone are the days when handlooms were restricted to ethnic wear. Young designers are giving fresh perspective to this age-old textile and craft in the form of dresses, maxi-gowns and jumpsuits — making it, in the process, more meaningful for today’s generation.

“I find lots of young designers are trying to integrate responsible fashion into their ideas. The government is supporting these clusters as part of the Make in India campaign and I see a serious effort to try and focus attention on the plight of our craftsmen and weavers,” designer Payal Khandwala, who launched her eponymous label in 2012 and works with handwoven silks, khadi, cottons and linens, told IANS.

“It requires patience and it is not without its challenges, but I find the fruit of the labour is well worth the while. I just hope this is not a trend and becomes an integral and ongoing part of the ethos for a brand and the consumer,” she added.

For designer Anita Dongre, India has a long and unique history of craftsmanship, with several indigenous crafts and practices passed down across generations of artisanal communities.

“From heritage Benarasi weaves that have an innate royal feel, to luminous, featherweight chanderi cottons — finely-crafted handloom pieces will always win the creative battle over all things factory-made,” Dongre told IANS.

“Moreover, India’s handloom industry, unlike several other sectors, is innately environmentally conscious and responsible. It also provides artisans with a sustainable means of income in their villages… It’s about time we put the spotlight back on traditional weaves and give handloom its due,” Dongre added.

The designer also said that there have been a significant growth in the interest in handloom and traditional weaves in the recent years.

A fresh Perspective Is Given By New Young Designers.
A Fresh Perspective Is Given By New Young Designers.

“The active involvement and thoughtful initiatives of the government have accelerated the spread of this awareness. A lot of designers are creating conscious fashion using Indian textiles and crafts. Fashion schools are also doing fantastic work in sensitising the design community to these relevant issues. With Grassroot (one of her labels), we’re going one step ahead and making sure fashion benefits the maker and the buyer,” she said.

For designer Anavila Misra, of the eponymous brand Anavila, the beauty and comfort of handlooms, combined with contemporary silhouettes and designs, are making it a very high fashion, luxury commodity.

“I feel there is a very strong parallel voice of sustainable slow fashion emerging in terms of young designers. The changing roles and shifting paradigms of women in India have also created a new fashion voice which goes with the new Indian women breaking barriers, leading independent lives and always on the move,” Misra told IANS.

So, how is handloom attracting today’s youth in terms of cuts and patterns?

“Handwoven textiles are so versatile, almost any outfit can be made with them. Of course, it depends on the weight, drape and fall. Khadi jumpsuits, Matka silk palazzos, Brocade dresses, a Bhagalpuri silk shirtdress, Chanderi cotton silk maxis are great silhouettes that can be made in handcrafted fabrics,” Khandwala explained.

The Anavila brand offers everything — from a shirt, trouser to a formal suit and a sari — in handloom.

“From a casual tunic for at-home lounging, to a formal sari for an event and a jacket for the office — all are available in varied handloom designs to make your all-handloom wardrobe,” Misra pointed out.

The Government Is Now Set To Promote Handlooms As A Way to Reminiscence Our Culture. Wikimedia Commons
The Government Is Now Set To Promote Handlooms As A Way to Reminiscence Our Culture. Wikimedia Commons

She also felt that India is currently going through exciting times and so the future of handloom is bright.

“We have found our own voice and are confidently finding artistic expressions. The design landscape is full of young designers eager to work with Indian craft and textile heritage and create beautiful products which are a true representation of the unique skill-set of our artisans and weavers.

Also Read: The Need To Celebrate National Handloom Day in India: It’s Significance and Relevance in Modern Times

“This is resulting in unique products with their inherent USP. Handlooms and sustainable fashion have a strong future, as customers have shown great interest and embraced the same,” Misra noted. (IANS)