Meet Anavila, the designer behind Sonam's red sari for 'Zoya Factor' promotions 

For Anavila, loom is the way to go, and sustainability forms the core of her brand ethos with natural dyes drawn in from turmeric, indigo and pomegranate.

Published: 17th November 2019 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th November 2019 06:27 PM   |  A+A-

Designer Anavila

Designer Anavila

Her creations are raw, traditional and luxurious. And her minimalistic yet gorgeous drapes are the toast of the fashion marquee. Instagram is going wild over her simple, muted red sari that Sonam K Ahuja draped ever-so elegantly for 'The Zoya Factor' promotions.

Indeed, Mumbai-based designer, Anavila, has become the go-to person for one-of-a-kind hand-spun saris that are not just perfect for the modern Indian woman of today, but also pieces that can be handed down to generations of tomorrow due to their timeless vocabulary.

“For me, fashion is a medium of self-expression. There are two parts to fashion. First, the influence exercised on us by our socio-economic and cultural environment. Second, how we relate and react to this environment,” says Anavila, as we settle down to chat in her studio in suburban Mumbai.

For Anavila, loom is the way to go, and sustainability forms the core of her brand ethos with natural dyes drawn in from turmeric, indigo and pomegranate. “As I work with natural textiles, there is a touch of rawness in my work,” she confesses. “I do believe that complete perfection is very plastic. The little imperfections make each garment more beautiful, lending a soul to the creation,” she explains, talking about the mechanics of collaborating with her treasured cluster of weavers in West Bengal to spin these classics.

What established the design vocabulary is the passionate flowing in of hours into the making of each garment, by hand, spanning weaving, embroidery and block printing. “Now, of course, the doors are open to younger designers, but when I started out in 2011, it was a big challenge finding weavers to work on natural fibres. I wanted to create my own unique rendition of saris,” she adds.

Plus, price points also needed to be justified. “It was difficult to explain the figures on the tags earlier to buyers at exhibitions, as my creations are a bit coarse, and not very polished in terms of material, besides being minimalistic in design aesthetics as well,” she laughs. “Though I still remember the three women who bought all my saris at my very first exhibition in South Bombay. It was a very rewarding feeling. I knew then that I was getting it right, that there was a market for my design sensibilities.”

After graduating from NIFT, Anavila worked with Madura Garments and finally took to repositioning the sari with passion. Seven runway shows later, she unveiled her highly awaited collection, Joy, last month. “Each of these creations is replete with the hues that we associate with festivals,” she says. “The exuberant colours stem from the kitchen, in happy turmeric, chilli red, soft cardamom and warm cinnamon. I love the brick red ‘gerua’ colour that flows smoothly through silhouettes. Through Joy, I have tried to bring back the effervescence that infuses us all during the time of festivities.”

Anvila has worked on dupattas for the first time and has experimented with salwars as well, especially with the base or the “pauncha”, she smiles, recalling memories of growing up in small-town Karnal in Haryana. “The colour palette of my collection is also reminiscent of the delicious mithais that my mother and her friends used to make at home during Diwali. From Gulab Jamun to angoori khoya specials, the table used to be laden with a variety of sweets. With Joy, I go back to my roots and relive the magic of beautiful, warm memories. I have tried to bring in the emotional matrix that each one of us has grown up with, celebrating festivals through our childhood.”

What has she learnt over the years? “That fashion can never be forced and that fashion is a personal journey, unique to each one of us. I feel we Indian women look best in a sari. It is the most elegant and flattering drape, perfect for every occasion. You must never be caught up by fashion forecasts. Instead, focus on evolving your won design sensibility, in keeping with your own sense of aesthetics,” she signs off.

India Matters


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