Come Navratri time and you will see the women in our country decked to the nines, with looks curated for all nine days. From matha pattis on their heads and bandhani lehengas to mirror work juttis, these make for the quintessential Navratri wardrobe.
While chaniya cholis are the traditional Gujarati attire worn for garba and dandiya dances, we have seen a shift to three-piece sets, co-ord sets, dhoti sarees and sharara ensembles that offer comfort and style. Fashion designer Hitayshi Shah says, “One thing that has remained a constant in these outfits are the traditional mirror work, bandhani and leheria print worn during these festivities.”
While the craft of mirror work has a rich history dating back to 13th century Persia, it is now being modernised for its “timelessness and versatile appeal”, explains Shah, adding, “A type of hand embroidery, it also goes by the name of sheesha or abhala bharat embroidery. Mirror work includes attaching small pieces of mirror onto fabric”.
Bandhani is another popular print that makes an appearance during the festive season. With its tie and dye style, it remains a classic piece in any festive closet. Anirudh Kankatala, Director of Kankatala says, “Bandhani is crafted with the highest level of detailing and technique. The fabric is tied and then dyed and later knotted using needles to form a figurative design. Bandhani is not a weave. It’s a technique of work done on other fabrics such as kanchipuram, Banarasi, georgette, etc.” This centuries-old craft is native to Gujarat, Rajasthan and parts of Uttar Pradesh and its traces can be found in the Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra, where you will find depictions of women wearing such tie-dye clothes.
To make one saree, it take artisans anywhere from one to six weeks or even longer, if it has more intricate detailing.
Designers and fashionistas alike are making way for a new era of bandhani and mirror work as they give their own twist to it. While some choose to go the traditional route, couturiers with an innovative vision seek to make a mark by giving these age-old crafts a makeover. Actors Alia Bhatt and Kiara Advani have worn outfits with these designs on the red carpet, for festivities and other events, while fashion bloggers like Riya Jain and Sukhmani Gambhir take to their social media accounts to spread the charm of these designs.