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Timeless creations

Classic, timeless, handmade, ethnic chic... that's Anuradha Vakil's creations



Sheetal Malhar sports the designer's outfit.

HER GROUNDING in the arts and crafts has stood her in good stead. Right from her kohl-lined eyes to her style of dressing and designing clothes, Anuradha Vakil epitomises every thing Indian in a way. Anuradha has been offered to design for a mainstream Hindi film recently. Although she does not disclose much about this while in the city to launch her new festive line at Elahe, she spoke about her passions - textiles and crafts.

"I am still toying with the idea of accepting the Hindi film based on a literary work. I can't work on somebody else's demand. The sensibilities have to be on the same level. The story line is interesting but I have to make up my mind," says Anuradha who already did clothes for Nandita Das for the film Sleeping Beauty.

Anuradha is known for her sense of styling natural handmade fabrics into aesthetic and haute creations. "I create what I like. Mine is more of an artistic pursuit and business comes next," says this designer with an MBA degree from US who worked in the corporate world before she ventured into fashiondom. Her couture in mostly a muted colour palette has an understated look. "That's how I am."

Anuradha's trademark is the use of craft. She strongly feels about making crafts stylish. "I am trying to prove the use of indigenous crafts on the ramp and turning them into couture. I lend it sophistication and refinement and lift it out of the ordinary."

Aesthetic look

Her upbringing in a creative environment and exposure to the arts and crafts at a young age instilled a sense of aesthetics in her. "I learnt Hindustani music for 15 years and was exposed to painting, embroidery, ceramics, basket making... From the beginning I did my own clothes and when I quit the corporate sector I wanted to be creative in a different way. I did not want to be the housewife and daughter-in-law designing clothes as a hobby, operating from a garage. There is nothing wrong in that. But I wanted a strong independent career in my artistic pursuit. Crafts are there for everyone to use. It is for designers to make crafts relevant today. For the last nine years, it has been give-and-take between me and my craftsmen (spread all over the country). It has been a growing process for both."

Anuradha has been able to reinvent herself all the time in the last nine years. "Fashion is all about today and now. One has to work hard and push the envelope. Over the years, I have realised the limitations and potential of crafts and worked within the boundaries." Now she has been able to mix and match various craft techniques in a single garment.

Embellishing garments

Be it the fabrics or the embellishments Anuradha has been able to carve a distinct identity. A certain timelessness marks her clothes. "That's a conscious thing. Classicism is an illusive quality be it in fashion or art. If something stands the test of time, it is truly beautiful."



Anuradha Vakil. Photo: K. Gajendran

On Gen X style of dressing, she says, "that youngsters do not appreciate handcrafted and beautiful things or the times gone by is a myth. The global influence is certainly there but there will be some who have an eye for beauty and they may not wear Indian clothes during the day but will certainly pick them up for evening." Her clothes for the young are "a lot more skin showing and sexier.

They have the figures (as they work hard) and carry it with dignity. Anuradha hates the term Indo-Western. "I do more contemporary clothes which have a versatility about them."

She voices strong about plagiarism. "We pour our heart into our clothes and when somebody makes a shabby copy I can't take it as flattery. I am strongly against it but can't take action easily as the Intellectual Property Rights is not in place."

Her clothes may have a high price tag but it's left to people with a discerning eye to buy. As for Anuradha, she is as charged about designing clothes like she was from day one.

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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