Gaurang Shah and his Sari Tales

Gaurang Shah and his Sari Tales

The National Award-winning costume designer of Savitri, brings his new weaves to Dubai

By Ambica Sachin

Published: Wed 28 Aug 2019, 11:01 AM

Last updated: Fri 30 Aug 2019, 11:10 AM

Fresh off his National Award honour for Best Costume Design for the multi-lingual film Mahanati, the 2018 biopic on South Indian actress Savitri, designer Gaurang Shah should understandably be on a high. It's no mean feat considering Mahanati marks Shah's debut in film costumes. But the designer is pretty muted in his response even as he admits he is "very humbled and honoured." Starring Keerthi Suresh and Dulquer Salmaan, Mahanati spans the life of the actor who took the film industry by storm in the late 50s and 60s. "I am very proud that a movie that manifested Indian weaves and textiles was honoured with the award," he says. Excerpts from our interview with the designer who is bringing his Navras collection ("traditional weaves with contemporary colours and textures") to Dubai on August 30 and 31 at the Taj Dubai (11am-7pm) along with handcrafted jewellery by Kishandas & Co, and hand-woven textiles by Vaya.

Do you believe a fashion designer needs to have a presence in the film industry in order to reach out to a wider audience?
It surely is the strongest medium to reach a huge audience and makes a stronger impact to give out a message.

Sari is no longer seen as a traditional attire - it has made it to the boardrooms. To what do you attribute this shift in attitude?
The whole system is going back to its roots. In fashion, living and even lifestyle. Everyone has been taking the traditional route and including it in everyday life.

How important a role does Bollywood play in changing the way the sari is perceived by youngsters?
It definitely plays a really huge role, specially with the younger generation. When they see their idol wear something they start giving it that importance.

Is there a difference in the buying habits of someone from Chennai as compared to a person from Mumbai? And do your clients from New York and London desire something different?
I do very classic clothing which is timeless. So even though someone in Chennai would be inclined to a Kanjeevaram as opposed to someone in Mumbai who would prefer a Patan Patola, all my clients have a similar approach towards clothing and hence in New York or Kolkata my range works with the women who appreciate and understand textiles.

Your saris are known for their rich, vibrant colours and motifs. When you envisage your saris, what kind of women do you see in them?
Any woman who appreciates and understands weaves is the woman who I make them for.

You are instrumental in promoting handloom weaves and reviving its presence in the Indian woman's wardrobe. What do you consider your USP in this field?
My USP is my innovation in textures, colour combinations and contemporising traditional textiles and making them relevant to the world now.

Whether someone tags you on Insta, or posts on FB or Twitter, social media today has a reach which was unimaginable before. What are your thoughts on it as a marketing tool?
It is an amazing platform which has made communication so easy in this world. It has connected me to people and given the easiest access to them and me.

Between fabric, colour and motifs (design element) - which is the most important aspect of creating a piece of wearable art, according to you?
It is a mix and balance of all of it. There is no specific route that I go down. Sometimes I come across an inspiration for a motif and it begins from there, sometimes it's a colour that I saw or a combination that I thought of and it begins from there.

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