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In Conversation with Anavila Misra

Sonali-1The apple of the eye of the Indian handloom industry, designer Anavila Misra is well-loved for her pared-down aesthetic and simple yet sophisticated creations. Her championing of the sari is favoured by celebrities including the likes of Sonam Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma, who understand the worth of simple, light and breathable fabrics.

Misra launched her label in 2010 to undo the notion that the sari had to be a ‘proper’ garment. From then to now, her followers love her for her raw, casual aesthetic and organic linen saris in natural or indigo tones and geometric patterns. Her latest collection at Lakme Fashion Week WF 2016, ‘The Sari in Us’ is dedicated to saris beyond festive wear, even if its just for Sunday afternoon lazing. We caught the designer in a candid chat!

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A+CO: You’ve been working with Indian weaves long before ‘Make in India’ became a catchphrase. What draws you to them?

Anavila: Everything from the texture, stories, time and love invested by the weavers on looms, its heritage, and the ability of  Indian textiles to be folded into contemporary versatile silhouettes draws me to it.

What’s your take on Indian weaves coming into the limelight now?

Indian textiles have always been in the limelight on international platforms. We, as Indian consumers, have finally started investing in them and appreciating them again, and that is a welcome change .

What makes linen saris unique?

As a textile, linen has a unique texture and feel. It was a difficult fabric to imagine translating into a sari. But once we played with the loom settings and finishes, it turned out to be most unique and contemporary drape . The beauty of the linen sari is that it’s a sari which doesn’t make you look dated, nor does it tie you to any tradition. It’s a sari for the modern women who is on the move, with a vibe that’s casual and chic.

Which celebrities wear your looks best? 

I love them all!  They all wear them differently and make the saris their own. I love how Sonam (Kapoor) experiments with them every time, and how Sonali (Bendre) and Konkona (Sen Sharma) keep it classic and elegant.

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Tell us some interesting contemporary ways to style linen saris. How can they be dressed up or down?

We can learn drapes from the women in our villages, who wear the sari through all their daily chores. I love it when the drape itself is moulded to make the sari work for different work conditions. Having said that, it’s beautiful to see a sari worn with comfort and elegance. Wear it in a way that makes you walk freely and allows you to be comfortable of long hours. There are no defined rules — make your own.

How would you describe the typical ‘Anavila Misra’ patron?

A women who loves saris and defines it through her own personality.

Your designs are a far cry from overly embellished Indian wear. How can one make a statement in simple looks?

I have always felt that we should define fashion and not the other way round. The most beautiful thing about my saris is that they work as a canvas, and women can elevate them with accessories and styling in their own way. It is not very easy to mould an overly embellished outfit like that.

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Discover Anavila Misra on Aashni + Co here