Khadi goes savvy
A model sporting one of Manu Lulla's exclusive designs.
MANU LULLA is passionate about colours and fabrics. And it was this passion that drove her to start a fashion store, Silhouettes, six years ago.
Manu is choosy about the clothes she works with. Synthetics are a strict no. She enjoys working with natural fabrics such as cottons, silks, and linen. But it is khadi that really inspires her. Her special interest in khadi dates back to her visit to Kerala a few years ago for an exhibition. Manu happened to be wearing one of her own khadi outfits, and people told her that she should come up with more designs in khadi. Thus began her romance with the humble hand-spun fabric.
She collaborated with a weaver and experimented on the khadi yarn with a mix of cotton and flax. The end product, linen, makes for good dress material. "One feels extremely comfortable in them. If tailored well, they look trendy," explains the innovative designer. "As the making of khadi fabric involves manual labour, it is expensive," she adds.
Khadi generally comes in mixed colours, but Manu feels that khadi in a solid colour is beautiful. The Khadi Board, she says, has been receptive to suggestions and new ideas in the recent past. The recent exhibition held by the Khadi Board had a stall where exquisite khadi wear, designed by Manu, were on display. The stall drew huge crowds.
"The exhibition was a roaring success. In fact, we were not geared for such a demand. People kept coming back and asking us for some specific patterns and designs," says Manu. This, in a way, broke the stereotypes associated with khadi, and showed that khadi is an adaptable fabric. "It was refreshing to see youngsters, especially boys, sporting short and long kurtas, which they carried off well on jeans," she adds.
This designer is as comfortable creating intricate hand embroidery and needlecraft too. Just as she does not work on synthetics, Manu does not use machine embroidery.
"Tribal art, rangolis, etc., make attractive designs on the fabric," she says. Manu also does a lot of handwork for weddings. She makes draw string bags in vibrant colours, decorative spreads for seating, tiny bags (which are used to give gold coins to the groom) and so on. "Little things with intricate work is time consuming, but I really enjoy doing such stuff." On orders, she makes special outfits for brides and grooms.
Silhouettes has a wide array of patterns to choose from, ranging from Western to ethnic wear. Khadi kurtas are priced at Rs. 300 upwards, khadi silk kurtas at Rs. 900 upwards, while the salwar sets are priced at Rs. 800 upwards.
Silhouettes is situated at No. 1, 1st Floor, St. Patricks Complex, `B' Block, Brigade Road.
Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy.
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