A legacy of Ritu Kumar’s world renowned textile revival work, the project "Varanasi Weaves" was undertaken to re-create the aesthetics of the weaves once hand loomed in Kashi, which is perhaps the world’s last and only surviving hand brocading centre. Our new revivalist collection reinvigorates the colours, soft drape and the subtle gold embellishments handcrafted on exquisite hand woven fabrics, saris and lehengas in the royal Indian era. Dismally in the last 100 years the designs and sensation of the gold and silver brocading of Benaras have gone through a change diminishing the heritage of the exclusive Benarasi weaves. In an effort towards their revival our design studios have been inspired by vintage fabrics and museum collections and have used looms and the talents of the designers or Nakshbands of this unique ancient city.
For the last 45 years Ritu Kumar has pioneered the revival of the finest textile techniques. As part of this legacy, Ritu Kumar is now launching a series of signature collections under the banner of 'Revivalist by Ritu Kumar' aimed at bringing traditional handicrafts and textiles back into the mainstream of Indian fashion. The objective behind this concept is to use the finest artisanal techniques still alive today and convert them into a product relevant to a contemporary India.
The Shibori collection is a collaboration with Mura Collective, a craft based organization with a focus on handloom and ikat weaving along with natural dyes and shibori - a unique tie and dye technique. The craftsmen are women and specially abled persons residing in an urban village pocket of Delhi, Neb Sarai. Started in 1998 by Kusum G. Tiwari and Prabha Gahtori, both natural dyes enthusiasts, the Mura collective's repertoire of work especially in Shibori (a special combination of traditional and stitch resist techniques) is instantly recognizable and sought after by textile enthusiasts.
The first in the series under the Revivalist banner is the 'Kutch Collection' in collaboration with Kala Raksha, a well-known grassroots social enterprise, dedicated to preservation of traditional arts. Judy Frater, co-founder of Kala Raksha and director of Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya, has worked with Ritu Kumar since the early 1990's. Ritu Kumar appreciated Kala Raksha's efforts to nurture the spirit of traditional embroidery of the Kutch region, where embroidery skills are hereditary and through them to enable the embroiderers self-sufficiency.
The collection is based on an embroidery known in the region as "Jat " which is practised traditionally, by the Garasia Jats, a pastoralist nomadic community, originally based outside the Kutch region. Jat embroideries are ethnic in style and are basically done by the Garasia women. The stitches are done in geometric patterns following the weave of the cloth, and are done in a very fine configuration, in cross-stitches, embellished with minute mirrors. Yokes of these have been created to form various styles giving the pieces a unique blend of continuous cultural techniques, unique to Kutch and Sindh.