The linearity in the latest collection is a contemporary nod to the traditional elegance of the weaves.
The linearity in the latest collection is a contemporary nod to the traditional elegance of the weaves.

Shanti Banaras' latest collection blends tradition with modern geometric designs

Traditional weaves get a modern twist in Shanti Banaras’s new collection exploring the linear form

The heritage of handwoven Banarasi weaves made Khushi Shah, founder, of Shanti Banaras, find her metier in powering the loom. Inspired by her early days spent in the creative crucible of the 70-year-old legacy of weavers in the ancient city of Varanasi, arrives the latest collection of saris—The Line.

“The Banarasi weave has traditionally been flooded with floral and lattice designs. I wanted to sieve through the crowded landscape of motifs, and bring in clean geometrics. The idea stemmed from the need to create a strong visual reference to establish our linear geometric collection,” says Khushi, who launched Shanti Banaras in 2019 with her sibling, Amrit.

As the third generation in the family business, the duo has created a creative, luxury niche for the brand over the years, through the language of slow fashion. The emphasis is as much on supporting weavers, as it is on promoting the sustainable use of fabrics.

The linearity in the latest collection is a contemporary nod to the traditional elegance of the weaves. The geometrics blend into the age-old craft of the city as the siblings work with over 80 weavers, reviving the handiwork intrinsic to the city. The Line borrows heavily from the tone-on-tone weave style of Gujarat’s Tanchoi sari. “Great ideas have a eureka quality to them. The concept of this range came to me over a cup of piping hot, cutting chai. Pranoy, the photographer for the campaign, and I came up with this off beat idea of taking the sari into a sci-fi, linear realm. If we are to ensure that the sari does not go the kimono way, where it’s only worn on specific occasions, then we must lure the young women into wearing saris more often. This collection has been, created keeping their minimalist fashion sense in mind,” she says. The Line has found expression in the wardrobes of several celebrities, including Madhuri Dixit Nene, Vidya Balan, Sobhita Dhulipala, Dia Mirza and Rashmika Mandanna.

Khushi Shah
Khushi Shah

“We have emulated modern concepts into our striped saris, encouraging the weavers to think beyond a straight line to bring in lyrical twists and turns into their weaves. The skillful interplay of graphs, patterns and eccentric visuals comes together to reimagine the linear form. It is a state of controlled chaos upon a blank architectural canvas, tied together with acrobatic sculptures and geometric textile formations,” says Khushi.

The drapes in this ‘art-meets-fashion’ range carry angular notations too, evocative of the strong narratives in the earlier collections. Roar, for instance, drew attention to the shrinking forests, the natural habitat of the tigers, juxtaposing geometrics of the national animal’s anatomy with the traditional patterns of the Banarasi weave. Akathya highlighted the transgender community through multicoloured stripes in eight vibrant weaves modelled by transgender women. The Line takes off then to line up the aesthetics of the young generation.

“Understanding the sensibilities of our buyers forms the core of our business. We keep the young brides in mind, observing how they choose to style and drape the saris and lehengas, the colour combinations they prefer, and so on,” says Khushi, adding, “The composite, experiential interface brings with it new learn every day. In The Line, the idea was to enhance the linearity, allowing it to emerge through the drape, the frame and the sharp treatment of the form. It is sheer drama at play.”

The palette mirrors the subtlety of the line, including pastels, monochromes and soft hues that blend into modern wardrobes. Think minty greens, forest hues, molten cobalt, blushing pinks, old rose, charcoal and orange coming together in rustling, luxurious silks. Her favourite pick though is the lemon, tone-on-tone sari, which follows the intricacies of a cuboid. Floor-length cocktail gowns in golden yellow and deep pinks make an appearance in the melee of saris, with the gossamer feel of the rich Banarasi weave. “The Line currently consists of 16 saris and seven gowns (prices commence at Rs 18,000), and we plan to keep adding to the collection,” shares Khushi.

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The New Indian Express