CHENNAI: The tenth edition of Vastra Utsav, a celebration of indigenous artisans, weavers and designers, was held at the Mayor Ramanathan Chettiar Centre in Chennai on Thursday.
The two-day fund-raiser organised by Friends of Dhakshinachitra features more than 20 shops this year. 15 per cent of all sales will go to Dhakshinachitra, the cultural art museum located on East Coast Road near Kovalam.
“Since it is hard to get weavers and traditional artisans to set up shop, we invite designers who directly employ or rely on the skills of weavers, artisans and indigenous artists to sell their creations here,” says Usha Jawahar, president of the Vastra Utsav committee.
The exhibition/sale features merchandise ranging from handwoven pashmina shawls from the mountains of Kashmir to the bright Chanderi silk-cotton saris of Madhya Pradesh and the imposing hand-strung jewellery from the Todas of Ooty.
Most of the clothing and accessories are handmade. “There is a story behind each piece of jewellery in my collection,” says Gina Joseph, Chennai-based designer. “You wear a piece of history, culture and the innumerable stories of the artisans who create our jewellery. You wear a piece of earth.”
Anoop Rai’s collection of saris from Madhya Pradesh is the handiwork of 70 weavers he works with in Chanderi.
“I just give them the designs,” says Rai, an alumnus of NIFT Delhi.
Firdouse Jan, a fourth-generation weaver, is one of the few artisans who have set up shop. His pashmina shawls, handwoven by his family back in Kashmir, are among the most expensive accessories in the exhibition. “Some of the shawls take up to two years to complete,” he says.
Tasara, a textile design studio, is symbolic of the shift of the paradigm back in favour of the ‘desi’. Vidyuth Srinivasan, a former advertising professional, hung his boots in 2004 to carry forward his mother’s sari design legacy.
“ My weavers are family based in Salem and both my mother and I regularly send in our designs,” says Vidyuth. “It’s one big family affair.”
“While some artists employ traditional artisans, some imbibe their methods. We collect money for the artisan folk in Dhakshinachitra while benefiting artisans across the country,” says Usha Moorthy, a member of Friends of Dhakshinachitra.
The exhibition/sale will be open from 10 am to 7 pm today.