Made with hair-like, processed steel wires and available in a striking hues, Dadu’s spin on the sari has put her among those leading a modern textile revolution. Launched in 2007, her eponymous label catapulted to public consciousness in 2016 when Sonam Kapoor donned the label’s metal blue sari. It was not just an instant social media moment but also highlighted Dadu’s commitment to doing things differently.
After more than a decade in the business, Dadu has now launched her first store at DLF Emporio, New Delhi, which houses her range of customised metal bags, separates for men, and exquisite bridal wear for discerning design lovers. Dadu has an unruffled focus on handcrafting techniques, which has continued from her breakthrough collection The Maze (in collaboration with architect Rajat Sodhi) that featured hair-thin metallic wires woven with leather cord to create outfits, to 2016, where her runway featured craftsman that the audience could interact with.
We caught up with her to get a lowdown on her design journey so far.
On her love for textiles
I have always been fascinated with texture engineering. I love creating my own textiles and playing with materials, and that slowly became the brand’s core identity. We break down material and reassemble to change their very nature. So, soft zari cords become stiff through a special process. Similarly, hair-thin steel wires become soft and easily malleable. But we keep traditional Indian techniques at the heart of everything we do. Our idea is give a piece of art to our patrons when they buy our clothes.
On her experiments with sari
Sari needed a bit of reinvention. We wanted to be different yet maintain its essence. Our steel-wire and ripple cord saris are a homage to this amazing garment. When we did our first steelwires sari, we never thought it will reach a cult status.
On her fabric interventions
Our most popular technique involves changing the nature of steel — we first make hair-thin wires, treat them to make them soft and then each wire is cross sewn individually to make unique surfaces. Our saris and lehengas made of this surface are very popular. When people wear them for weddings, it sets them apart from the crowd. The new Indian bride is way more experimental now and there is an increasing desire to not look like everybody else on your most important day.
On creating a new design narrative
Who doesn’t want to own a piece of art that they can wear, especially when it’s functional and comfortable? People are instantly drawn to my clothes — they want to touch and feel the material. Once people try them on, they feel connected. It happens because they get to know the story — the material, the process, and the art behind our pieces. I believe in staying true to the core ethos of our brand – and that involves constant evolution and experimentation.
On her muse
On her favourite pieces from the new launched store
I love the metal triangle bags — they are extremely versatile. Then from our newly launched menswear line the metal yarn Nehru bomber stands out. Besides that, there is a whole range of shirts for men. Gold metal sari featuring a cotton base is another favourite of mine. Just in case you are looking for something easy, our metal chord, one shouldered top is the one go for.