Stitching stories

Amrita Prasad
Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Designer Mohammed Mazhar, who showcased his collection Kadhai Wala at a recently held fashion show, talks about how embroidery plays a major role in his designs and how he’s bringing the local people who work indirectly with fashion to the forefront

I see many old people who have been working as embroiderers since childhood. They are very talented but due to weak eyesight, they can only do chhapai (print) now, so we have started developing designs with chhapai in order to help them get employment, and in return, we get beautiful designs,” says designer Mohammed Mazhar who showcased his collection Kadhai Wala at the recently held Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/ Resort 2019.
 
Mazhar, who comes from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, has been working relentlessly to empower local artists, techniques and arts. His collection is an ode to that. Mazhar also entered the niche category of menswear and introduced his new mensline on the LFW runway. Since the collection was inspired by Mazhar’s hometown, he also brought on the ramp artisans Mohammed Arshad and Mohammed Khalid, who helped him bring his inspiration to life.  

His latest collection Kadhai Wala, which seeks inspiration from the local people of Saharanpur who represent art and culture, has a self-developed khaka print, 3D embroideries and a potpourri of fabrics — cotton cambric for the required flounce, and slub, Indian gauze, mulmul and special tencel (a fabric made from wood) known for their sheer feminine quality. The collection has a white drama and interesting bold and beautiful cuts.
 
In layman’s term, ‘kadhai wala’ is an embroiderer who is the inspiration behind Mazhar’s designs and through this collection he aims at acknowledging the efforts and talent of the background artisans. “Kadhai Wala is all about bringing the people who work indirectly with fashion to the forefront. In this collection, there is a lot of play on whites and primary colours with flowy and floral designs,” says Mazhar. 
 
While explaining the embroideries and fabrics, the designer says, “Khakha designs and 3D embroidery are done mostly by hand and include drawing and copying the designs on the fabric. It requires a keen eye and a trained hand. Tencel, is a fibre made from the wood pulp of trees that are grown and replaced on specialised tree farms. The fibre offers a range of features including botanic origin, sustainable production, silky smoothness, enhanced breathability, colour retention and biodegradability.” 
 
In his collection, there are layered full circle blouses with a hint of mesh at the neckline. Peasant-like asymmetrical skirts are splashed with blue, and random circular blotches of blue tones add to the aesthetics. Layered angular hemline midi creating a semi-formal look is also a part of his collection. Floral embroidery is teamed with dupattas and waist cinchers, while the printed dots and stripes make it a relaxed line. Keeping embellishment to a minimal, the menswear is simple and yet makes a statement.

Ask him about the popularity of embroideries and the inclination of the fashion world to incorporate these in their designs, and he says, “We, as a generation, are moving towards simple and plain clothes, adapting to the ‘less is more’ ideology. The process of integrating such embroideries into designs is through visualisation, having knowledge about the process of embroidery and creating clothes that accentuate it.”
 
The designer has made it his mission to help artisans and he believes LFW is a great platform for his designs as well as the skilled workers. “Lakmé Fashion Week is a platform followed by many — there is a lot of commercial coverage, and, that type of exposure helps my cause of bringing such men and women who inspire my work to get the limelight they deserve,” he shares.
 
Mazhar is also a believer of fluid fashion in which nothing should be restricted to a gender and his mensline is all about that. “The men’s fashion line of Kadhai Wala is trying to break barriers of gender-oriented designs where there are flowers and embroideries with soft silhouettes. It’s for everyone!” he avers.

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