A sari reaches on a cycle-rickshaw

February 2012
The Financial Express

What would a fashion designer's response be if a museum curator rummaged around in his workshop looking for a symbolic garment that not only represented the designer's sensibility and brand but also made a socio-political point about the creator's country? Whew, you may say. Right. David Abraham and Raakesh Thakore of the respected label Abraham & Thakore too are grateful that no one presented them with this puzzle. Even so, one of their black silk saris with an inlaid cycle rickshaw, worn high and short, not with a choli but an applique tunic tucked into the waist with a leather belt and high mojri shoes, has been chosen to live permanently at the Victoria & Albert Museum of London. This piece, incidentally, has another story peeping out of its seams. It is from the duo's Autumn Winter 2010 collection shown in Delhi two years back as part of their first ever show in the 25 years of their work. No one is surprised that Abraham and Thakore are the chosen ones. Products of Ahmedabad's National Institute of Design, now one of the most veteran creator pairs in Indian fashion, they are also among the few who have shown an unwavering commitment to Indian textiles. Cling and bling doesn't sway them, nor do Bollywood showstoppers distract from their design. “When we made this sari and showed it on the ramp, some people wondered about it being black because it is not the most auspicous colour after all,” says Abraham confessing he is more intrigued than anything else with this choice. With pieces that span more than 3000 years and represent the world's global cultures, the V&A has a permanent collection that tops four million pieces making it the world's largest decorative arts museum. It houses a wide range of East Asian decorative arts, a fashion and jewellery section that ranges from the 17 th Century till today, even a Nehru Gallery of Indian Art. This black Indian sari (a piece of vernacular Indian dressing as Abraham calls it) with a cycle rickshaw on it isn't an incidental choice. In the world's new and palpably evolving curiosity about India's design movement, the cycle rickshaw is as important a motif as the sari is a field.

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