You are what you wear in India

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You are what you wear in India

The House of Angadi, better known as the designers behind Deepika Padukone’s wedding saris have always taken pride in their sense of discretion and respect for heritage

By: Dhara Vora Sabhnani

In an age when every designer aspires for successful actors to be seen in their creations for social media bragging rights, K Radharaman is an exception. Radharaman, who is CEO and Design Head at the House of Angadi has been discreet about publicity when actor Deepika Padukone shopped for her wedding saris at his family-run store.

Signature style

But when photos of Padukone looking resplendent in a silk sari for her Konkani wedding in Italy were uploaded on the social media handles of Sabyasachi Mukherjee, the world assumed that it was the designer’s creation – largely owing to the signature styling. It was only later when journalist Shefalee Vasudev who edits The Voice of Fashion clarified that the sari was from an old-world Bengaluru-based textile outlet that the spotlight shifted to the House of Angadi. Padukone wore another sari from Advaya, an in-house label from House of Angadi for her Bengaluru reception.

On a recent trip to Mumbai, Radharaman spoke to The Hindu about the #DeepVeer wedding, his family business and taking a 600-year-old textile heritage down a contemporary path. He said, “Their family, like many other old Bengaluru families, have been shopping from us for years. Celebrities are modern-day royalty and we are used to handling many VIPS. The right way to do it is not publicise it. In this case too, we never wanted to speak about it. Deepika was at our store with the family quite some time back, she tried multiple pieces from the Advaya line. But we kept it hush [hush], as that’s what our clients expect us to do.” Radharaman was in town for a personal engagement as well as to discuss the possibility of being a part of an upcoming fashion week.

Traditional trade

The House of Angadi has been a choice of countless other celebrities, state and industrial heads, and royal families. Radharaman’s ancestors have been from the weaving community and Angadi was an informal title conferred to the family as they were court weavers to several royal families, most closely associated with the Sarbhojis of Thanjavur.

It was Radharaman who corporatised the company as Angadi Silks in 2001 in Bengaluru. This was after he acquired a degree in engineering from Cornell, but found his calling in the family’s legacy. The 38-year-old Radharaman is not your typical sari manufacturer. He has imbibed his family business, picking up the nuances of the trade along the way. “It was in my blood. When I got exposed to the archives, I developed a greater understanding. Two things can happen in such situations, you either do not value it as it’s so regular for you, or you are deeply appreciative. I followed the latter route after I understood my family history, interacted with my grandfather and other relatives. [I] decided that if I am going to do something on my own, this will be it. There is a civilisational continuity to what we do,” he emphasises.

Design interventions

Today Radharaman works practically everyday on design interventions that give Angadi’s archival pieces a contemporary twist. One such was in 2010, when they designed and executed a linen Kanjeevaram, which had never been tried before. They later launched the traditional weave known to be made in silk, in khadi too. In fact, it took them four months to just build the right loom for Padukone’s wedding sari, a pure zari Kanjeevaram. While the design was not customised for the Bajirao actor, it is among the rarest and most exclusive of designs from Advaya. The main motif is the gandaberunda, a mythical two-headed bird, symbolic of Padukone’s home state of Karnataka. It represents prosperity and wisdom, material and spiritual wealth. The sari that Padukone wore for her Bengaluru reception is a tissue brocade sari, is also a pure zari Kanjeevaram. The body is embellished with an all-over jaal. While the wedding sari took approximately 45 days to be woven, the gold reception sari took 60 days to be completed.

Radharaman is clearly respectful of tradition, he says “Design interventions are a must to take our weaving legacy forward. They have to be well-thought as every aspect has a meaning, the colour, the yarn, the weaving style and the motifs.” He shares the example, of the elephant motif which depicted in various forms has different meanings. “You are what you wear in India. For example, we know that the bust from Mohenjodaro is that of someone from the priestly class because of the upper garment. We are the largest handloom producing country in the world. We have worn uncut garments for thousands of years because we perceive the universe as a woven garment, so originally we never cut our garments. Who are we without our textiles, food, arts and culture?” asserts Radharaman.

Read the original article here : The Hindu

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