For years, the Ashima Leena label has been a coveted possession in every luxe wardrobe, with each piece being a virtual artwork. And it is with this soulful zeal that Leena Singh has created the label’s new Autumn Winter 2018 Collection, The Reversible Shawl.
The AL brand is 27 years old, and it has been a fashion forward journey for both Ashima and Leena, with countless collections receiving resounding applause (and sales) in India and abroad. The duo, however, split up a couple of years ago and it is now Leena who carries forward the AL label and legacy.
“It is very easy to lose yourself in the world of glamour, and dissolve into the ‘I, Me, Myself’ syndrome,” confesses Leena. “With this collection of garments, we have moved beyond the glamorous world to mirror the dark world of the artisans and the craftsmen, especially those of the Valley who have lost their livelihood owing to the turmoil infesting the state. The collection is a tribute to Kashmir and is the closest to my heart as it has been curated with emotion.” It certainly takes humility and strength of character aplenty to admit this and Leena does it with panache.
Seven months were poured into the exhaustive research, design and making of each piece. Jamavar rules the silhouettes with every tiny stitch crafted to perfection. An echo of the true human capital behind the realisation of every cut and contour. “We clap only for the designers at the end of a show, but for me the recipient of every clap is the humble artisan as well without whom this ditty would never have been made,” says Leena.
She has dipped into the colours of the Valley to devise the glorious palette of chinaar, saffron, walnut, mustard, turmeric, grey, pink, mauve, ivory, iron black, burnt orange and pomegranate red. In all of this, the leitmotif is the intricate paisley, the centrepiece of Kashmiri art and craft.
The Reversible Shawl dwells on the non-glamorous aspect, like the underside of a lovely jamavar shawl that speaks of the raw threads that make up the beautiful journey on the other side. A sort of sustained metaphor for the craftsmen who toil with the designer to shape every creation. “I have transferred the language of their motifs to carefully conceived digital prints, letting the forgotten intricacy of the craftsmanship speak for itself,” she says.
The minute details speak volumes for themselves. In the fine French knots married to the stitches, the elegance of the meticulously embroidered tiny buttons, the neat beadwork and the riveting tassels that add that little, but vital, finishing touch to the cuts, spanning embroidered ponchos, immaculate fabric construction in semi-stitched saris and dhotis, pharshi pyjamas, reversible dupattas, circular panel skirts and cowl salwars.
Especially eyecatching is the beautiful embroidered pocket juxtaposed against the jet black of the jacket (worn by Leena in the picture). “It spells a bright ray of hope to end the turmoil in the Valley so that the people get their livelihood back,” says Leena, as she prepares to take the collection to Kashmir itself to drive home the urgency of the situation.