Gaurang Shah can be easily credited with being at the forefront of the movement that champions the revival of heritage weaves. A torchbearer for the use of pure zari and Jamdani weaving technique, he innovates with the craft while also reflecting the mood of the season sprinkled with bright colours, textures and bold motifs. We caught him in an exclusive interview, as he prepares to showcase at the Aashni + Co Wedding Show for the very first time.
Aashni + Co: Heritage weaves have made a strong comeback. What is the reason for this according to you?
Gaurang Shah: We are a culturally rooted nation and the fact remains that our traditional textile fashion pieces are timeless and inventive. One of the biggest factors for their revival besides the ceaseless pursuit of textile designers like me, is the Prime Minister’s initiative to promote Indian textiles this year. It was a really big step. Indian handlooms have become trendier and in-tune with the younger fashion consumers too, and suit their moods, occasions and personality. Fashion platform like Lakmé Fashion Week, which has Indian Textile Day, is also a big motivator to attract young fashionistas.
Which are your favourite weaves to work with?
My favourite handloom fabric is khadi. It was the first fabric that I started my jamdani weaving with in 2000. Khadi is such a versatile fabric to work with, and I have been able to experiment tremendously using various yarns like muga, tussar, silk and cross-border influences to take the fabric of freedom to a niche level.
If you see my saris, they stand out for their unexpected combinations of fabric and design. I love to create new combination of weaves and fabrics. For example, in a muga sari I have woven a Paithani silk border, a Kanjeevaram korvai weave finds itself on an ample ghaghra, or have used an uppada design in a lehenga, which is a new fashion language by itself. What I really enjoy is texturing, and that’s why I love this technique, which helps me expand my creative expressions.
A must-have heirloom heritage weave in every bride’s trousseau according to you?
A jamdani sari — it is timeless and treasured by women in their wardrobe for years. I believe that if given the right twist, it can allure woman of all age groups. The six yard also gives one tremendous scope to innovate and play with. A patan patola is a must too.
How can a modern day bride or bridesmaid wear heritage weaves in a contemporary manner?
Brides and bridesmaids must understand that blouses are not just a piece of fabric anymore. A blouse is now a statement. High neck blouses have been the trend in our culture for generations. Add a high neck blouse to your heritage sari, while experimenting with its back. For instance, a full-sleeved kalamakari blouse will make your outfit look trendy.
Which wedding function can a bride wear a heritage weave for and how?
A saree is absolutely graceful. A paithani or uppada saree worn with a nice blouse is quite a stunner for the bride, and it blends beautifully into any traditional wedding theme. For a winter wedding, a red kanjeevaram silk saree would be most apt. If she wants to break away from the red, a gold-silver tissue kanjeevaram will also stand apart.
Which wedding function can a bridesmaid wear a heritage weave for?
The choice would really depend on the theme of the wedding function. I would suggest a fusion handwoven heritage outfit with experimental textures and fabrics. For instance, an organza saree worn with a jamdani blouse, or a kalamkari jacket worn over a kanjeeveram saree looks. The bridesmaid can also explore a lehenga, ghaghra or an anarkali.
This is the first time you’re exhibiting at the A+Co Wedding Show. Tell us about the collection you’ll be showcasing.
I am quite excited to be in London for the Aashni +Co Wedding Show. I hope my specially curated, unseen handwoven collection that include bridal and special occasion wear would strike a chord with the shoppers. Our specially curated line includes experimentation in weaves and prints, striking the perfect balance between heritage textiles and contemporary attitude.
Get your tickets for the Wedding Show here.