The collection recreates the designer’s sensorial experience.
The collection recreates the designer’s sensorial experience.

Anavila's ÉTÉ collection blossoms with French-Tamil elegance

Fashion designer Anavila’s latest collection is a Franco-Tamil ode to the beauty of the flower of love.

Fashion designer Anavila’s new collection, ÉTÉ (French for ‘summer’) poetises the rose in a soft blend of French and Tamil cultures. The charming elegance of the tiny, crisp petals clasped in powdery pink, sunny yellow and smoky blue, makes one fall in love with the bloom and the fragrance it fills the season with.

“I visited Puducherry almost 20 years ago and experienced the delightful mix of French and Tamil influences in the lifestyle there. In ÉTÉ, I savour my memories from the southern town, which instantly brings to my mind the scent of roses mixed with the aroma of French coffee,” recalls Anavila.

“The profusion of the flowers everywhere—long-stemmed clusters in vases at cafes, in churches at the altar, at homes and in gardens, marking festivities through decorations, in bouquets as gifts and greetings—together with their lilting fragrance has stayed with me through the years. There is a certain degree of thoughtfulness, and loving care, with which people arrange roses across the predominantly white spaces, in the erstwhile French colony. My inspiration for ÉTÉ stems from this cross-pollination of cultures.”

The collection recreates the designer’s sensorial experience in Puducherry in different silhouettes, including jackets, dresses, trench coats, blouses, dupattas, scarves, lehengas, co-ord sets, and saris, and the flower of love is its focal point, in hand-painted forms, carvings on wooden blocks, in mini posies, on trellises, across lattices, and individual placements on the fabrics. “Each silhouette is evocative of the feel of the colonial architecture or the leisurely walk on the promenade. It is a spontaneous flow of French chic, not contrived,” says the Delhi-based designer.

Anavila Misra
Anavila Misra

The line mirrors the colonial culture in Puducherry during the presence of the East India Company in the country. The rich profusion of sensibilities and the imbibing of the elements of French elegance into the lives of the locals led to many unique knits. “The best muslin from India—light and perfect for the tropical climate—married the applique work that is rooted in French culture. The placement of the tiny roses along the trellis in ÉTÉ, is reminiscent of the pink flowers lining French crockery,” Anavila says.

Coursing through ÉTÉ then feels like entering a rosarium. The chic runs through the suppleness of the leaves, the softness of the tendrils as the designer brings in a combination of silhouettes in linen, khadi silk, and khadi. All 92 pieces bloom in fresh appeal, boasting fine floral embroidery that lends a delicate complexion to the collars and cuffs. “The delicacy of lace is what intrigues me.”

"My favourite is the only metal block we created, with mini roses, that makes a startling imprint of lace on the fabric. I feel there are so many varieties of Indian and French roses; it is flabbergasting and merits a larger canvas,”she added.

The deep research into the homogenous culture that runs through ÉTÉ emerges in the intricacy of the embroidery. “Portraits were the main visuals that documented the style of dressing, the fabrics, and the handiwork during the 1850s in France. Even in India, the portraits of the royal families brought in an accurate peep into the clothes and jewellery of the times,” says Anavila, having brought in the pintucks, applique work, intricate detailing in lace into the creations, and even gold jewellery akin to Tamil weddings in the styling for the campaign for the collection.

“Though we have not ventured into menswear so far, we did shoot with men during the campaign, which is why you see men wearing embroidered roses on collars and cuffs in the gender-fluid cuts from ÉTÉ,” she explains.

What’s next? “I plan to go deeper into the concept of ÉTÉ for my festive collection. This is my definition of slow, sustained fashion, moving at a steady, rhythmic pace, to explore the depths of Franco-Tamilian sensibilities through beautiful silhouettes,” she says.


The New Indian Express