Warli goes global

Amrita Prasad
Friday, 7 September 2018

Archana Kochhar, celebrated designer and couturier, talks about her collection inspired by Warli art, which will be showcased at New York Fashion Week

In one of her previous interviews, Archana Kochhar was quoted saying, “Fashion is an expression of not only ourselves, but the society around us.” This statement is more than evident in the celebrated designer and couturier’s work. Her designs are not just the visual representations of her ideas and creativity, but they are deeply inspired from people, culture, social issues and the ethos she has grown up with.
 
In the past, the designer introduced the indigenous Ahimsa silk at New York Fashion Week (NYFW), as a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India campaign. Her designs were featured on amputee model Rebekah Marine. Kochhar is all set to make an impression at FTL Moda NYFW, on Sunday, when she showcases her new collection, Warli. 

The collection is inspired by the folk art of Warli practised by tribals living in Thane (Maharashtra). It’s a unique stick figure art and Kochhar will be promoting the form through her collection on a global platform. She will also be advocating the concept of ‘global disability inclusion’. Renowned model Kiara Marshall will be walking the ramp with her prosthetic leg. The idea is to showcase that  disability doesn’t need to hold you back. Over to Kochhar: 

Why did you choose Warli art for your collection? What is it about Warli art that makes it so suitable for designers to be inspired by them? 
As a part of the Make in India campaign, we have been working with dying art forms of India and reviving them. In the past, I had worked on Banjara. This year, during my travel in Maharashtra, I came across Warli paintings which intrigued me deeply and piqued my interest. So we did more research on it. A very renowned art form, we thought of taking the Warli art to a global platform like New York Fashion Week to create more awareness about it. 

You are going to showcase your collection for the third time at NFW. How do you think people abroad will receive Warli on fashion apparel?
Every time it has been a beautiful experience. I am thrilled and excited to be showcasing Warli, one of the most finest art of India, on a global platform such as this. Like last two times, we are hoping our collection is well received this year too. People abroad really appreciate the intricate nuances of a design. We have adapted the figurines in Warli very beautifully in our collection with contemporary silhouettes. 

Is your collection couture or a pret? What are the fabrics, cuts, silhouettes, patterns and colours that have been used? 
Warli is our new couture collection. It is a thoughtful creation that imparts the intricate detail of Warli art form, which talks about the lives of the tribals. The colour palette of this collection is black and white, with intricate hand painted warli stick figures, detailing is done by the Warli tribe artists, which runs through each garment.
The new line focuses on contemporary silhouettes fused with a glimpse of Indian conventional cuts to bring forward the concept of ‘East meets West’. The silhouettes comprises gowns with detailing like frills, trails and capes, flared bell bottoms with structured jacket tops, bodycon dresses with capes, flared skirts and dresses. The collection is a stylish expression of comfort and creativity blended into one, perfect for the global citizens.

You are collaborating with model Kiara Marshall. Tell us more on the global disability inclusion in the world of fashion? 
Global disability inclusion is all about accepting people with a disability in normal way. It promotes the idea of not discriminating anyone for their physical or mental disability. Platforms like fashion weeks serve as a perfect opportunity to take this message to a larger audience without being preachy. The world looks up to the segment of fashion for latest trends in clothes, looks, beauty, and even way of life!

Apart from including Warli art as a part of your collection, how else do you to plan to empower the artists? 
We are working with Indian artists and craftsman at a local level to give them a means of livelihood. We are also promoting the collection on various platforms to create awareness around the art of Warli to create a demand for it.

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