Vaishali Shadangule’s sartorial innovation and experimentation—these have been constant from when she started her career in 2001—has gradually brought her out of the shadows. In fact, it has rightfully planted her where she belongs—in the forefront. The designer, who is now a regular name at international fashion weeks, showcased her spring summer 2023 collection ‘Ancestral Threads’ at the recently held Milan Fashion Week on September 23. We got a chance to interact with Shadangule to know more about her collection. Excerpts...
Tell us about creating ‘Ancestral Threads’?
I always wonder: how can a two-year-old kid play the violin, tabla or any instrument like a maestro or a four-year-old child paint like a genius? [Answers] to these questions are clear… but we still do not want to believe it... That we bring something from our past lives. Even if you see nature—a 200-year-old tree—it showcases that it is not about one life, but that you carry forward many lives. In the same way, when I create a collection, I pick [details] from previous collections. While the design is always evolving, I use my cording technique—which is the DNA [of her brand]—but you still see different shapes created with it. While I am using weaves like Chanderi, Murshidabad silk from West Bengal, Khand from Karnataka, and—this time—Kota Doria and merino wool woven in Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh… something new always comes out every time. However, I feel there is a past connection even though the thread is always evolving. That is why the name ‘Ancestral Threads’.
It is common for you to dive into themes of spirituality and nature to draw inspiration. What’s your research process like?
I feel if you really want to create something original, you need to be connected with yourself and nature. Nature is the biggest inspiration because everything is already created and, I believe, we are recreating designs, shapes, and textures from nature. Research is an ongoing process for me—I am either in my workshop, in [craft] villages, or in nature [outdoors]. We don’t realise but we’re constantly observing and collecting things in our subconscious minds. Even for me, that’s how the process and research begins.
Tell us about how you deviated from off-white, a hue you are usually associated with?
The colour palette always [reflects] the mood I have when I’m creating a collection. This is for spring summer, and I wanted to create something really fresh and vibrant. That’s why, for the first time, I have used so many colours… just to see freshness and change.
What’s new in this?
This time, I’ve not done any innovation in fabric. But, we used the finest silk Kota Doria made in Rajasthan—the main focus of this collection and a great fabric for summer. I’ve also mixed weaves but more experiments were done in terms of colour. The accessories were made with leftover fabrics from previous collections.
Cording is universal in all your collections. Have you used it differently?
I do knotting as well, which also comes from cording. It is the same process but the shapes evolve according to the fabric flow. I try to create unconventional shapes. And with Indian textiles, it is magical every time and amazing to see how it takes different shapes. The design and shapes are evolving, and so it is different from my previous collections.