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Think of Indian fashion in today’s context and a distinct imagery emerges; rich hand-woven textiles and a number of local weavers and craftsmen associated with the trade practice. Though with the changing times and the evolving fashion market, India’s homegrown textiles might be re-imagined and reinterpreted to fit the runway but there are a few who value the handspun and handwoven in its purest form. And are working with a two-pronged approach of not just preserving them but educating through curated experiences as well. The ongoing exhibition in Coimbatore titled ‘Meanings, Metaphors Handspun and Handwoven in the 21st Century’ is one such initiative.

Image: Courtesy Pallon Daruwala Photography
Image: Courtesy Pallon Daruwala Photography

The exhibition curated by textile designer Mayank Mansingh Kaul displays exquisite Indian textiles in a visually appealing setup. Sarees and textiles which are a part of the exhibit were first commissioned for ‘Khadi – The Fabric of Freedom’, a series of exhibitions curated by textile conservationist and cultural revivalist, the late Martand Singh. These exhibitions were further developed and expanded into initiatives exploring varied aspects of cotton cultivation and understanding the relevance of hand-spun and hand-woven cotton fabric in India with experts such as Rahul Jain, Rta Kapur Chisthi and Rakesh Thakore on board. 

Between 2002-03, a series of exhibitions were held in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata showcasing a rare collection of 108 sarees, specially made for the exhibit. Along with it, a collection comprising of 108 varieties of cotton fabrics was also sourced from hand loom centres from all over India to be a part of these showcases. 

Image: Courtesy Pallon Daruwala Photography

Registry of Sarees, a research and study Centre in Bangalore acquired a part of these fabrics and sarees. And under the leadership of founder Ally Mathan has set up a centre to provide a home for the collection, and is also showcasing a series of new renditions of exhibitions with it.

Image: Courtesy Pallon Daruwala Photography

“The exhibition’s first iteration was presented in Chirala in Andhra Pradesh in November this year, as part of Anchoring Innovation, a Conference and Festival celebrating the technological cultures of the handmade in India. Its second iteration is being held at the iconic Lakshmi Mills in Coimbatore in January 2019, the opening of which is marked by the release of a catalogue of the exhibition” informs Kaul. 

The exhibit which runs from 21st-27th January at the historical Laxmi Mills, Coimbatore also consists of collateral events comprising of talks and workshops bringing textile experts and aficionados under one roof. 

Anupam Dabral
Sr. Associate Editor
It was while studying fashion journalism at London College of Fashion that Anupam developed a keen interest in the anthropological aspect of the discipline; for him, fashion only makes sense when seen in the context of its environment. He is always on the hunt for great stories, and in his spare time binge-watches films/shows starring Whoopi Goldberg, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.