Can you work the quiet luxury trend into festive dressing? Fashion designer Anavila Misra weighs in

Known for her handwoven linen sari, the couturier is all set to bring her first-ever bridal collection to Dubai


Somya Mehta

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

Published: Fri 27 Oct 2023, 6:52 PM

With the Festival of Lights just around the corner, the conversations have successfully geared towards how to create the perfect Diwali look. Driving the ethos of ‘less is more’ forward, quiet luxury has been a key trend in the global fashion landscape this year.

A term used to describe a style and approach that focuses on understated, subtle, and refined opulence rather than flamboyance, quiet luxury emphasises the idea that true luxury doesn’t need to be loud, extravagant, or ostentatious. Instead, it’s about quality, craftsmanship, and an understated elegance that speaks for itself.

Anavila Misra
Anavila Misra

Even though festive dressing for Diwali, traditionally and historically, has always been about embracing the vibrant and colourful spirit of celebration, can this year tell a different story? Known for her contemporary take on traditional Indian clothing, especially the saree, and her commitment to ethical and environment-friendly practices in her eponymous label, Anavila Misra, who's all set to have her first solo show in Dubai on October 28 at Jaipur Rugs, Alserkal Avenue, decodes how the shift towards quiet luxury will influence festive dressing trends this season.

Edited excerpts from an interview:

Your work showcases a unique blend of the past, present, and future, juxtaposing traditional styles with modernity in a timeless manner. Where does this understanding of the craft stem from?

I was born and brought up in the small town of Karnal in Haryana, India, in a simple household with a strong focus on academia. Fashion was never a topic of conversation, but my mother had a simple, minimalistic, refined, and classic aesthetic in sync with traditional textiles, crafts, and intricate embroideries. This was reflected in her wardrobe, and I believe it indirectly influenced how I started to perceive fashion without even realising that my aesthetic was taking shape at that time. After working in the corporate world for a few years, I took a break to work for the Ministry of Rural Development and Textiles on craft-based projects. This experience exposed me to the rural areas and craft hubs of India, where I gained a profound understanding of the crafts and skills that thrive in our villages.

Actor Janhvi  Kapoor exudes timeless charm
Actor Janhvi Kapoor exudes timeless charm

One can say that your collection represents the modern Indian woman, someone who values her heritage and cultural roots while forging ahead into a new reality. How do you perceive the modern woman, and how does this influence your designs?

India has always been a country with strong women who have played vital roles in shaping our nation. Today, even women from smaller villages and towns are finding their voices, expressing themselves, and assuming key roles. It’s a beautiful time in our country. The modern Indian woman, as you rightly pointed out, is deeply rooted in culture and crafts and textiles. When we view the world through the lens of being confident in our own roots and desiring to explore more, it results in a unique blend of modernity and tradition. The saree is a prime example. It is a traditional garment woven with heritage and culture, but how you experiment with it, the choice of yarns, and how you handle the saree can make all the difference.

Of late, the saree has become the subcontinent’s fashion symbol, making its way to global red carpets. How has the garment evolved in your observation?

The confidence we have gained in expressing ourselves through our own techniques and textiles has prompted many new designers to experiment with the traditional saree. This experimentation has given rise to a multitude of saree variations embraced by a younger, global Indian population.

Anavila’s latest collection is an intricate blend of traditional and modern
Anavila’s latest collection is an intricate blend of traditional and modern

While women of Indian origin have always cherished the saree, what’s changing now is the growing interest of women worldwide in wearing this traditional garment. This has encouraged women to access, understand, and embrace the saree in new and creative ways. It’s a result of the innovative approaches of younger designers who have redefined the saree and created a more versatile version of this timeless attire. When we saw Natasha Poonawalla wearing the saree at the Met Gala, it was a totally new avatar of this classic drape.

We’ve also noticed that the younger generation seeks more bohemian versions of the garment. They want something modern when they're out and about or travelling, breaking away from traditional norms while staying true to our aesthetic language. For our label, we introduced the concept of pairing a waistcoat with a saree, providing versatility and appeal to the Gen-Z audience.

You're also launching your first ever couture collection. How is couture viewed through the vision of Anavila?

Expanding into couture was a natural progression for our brand, as it presents new challenges and opportunities for our creativity. Couture emphasises one-of-a-kind, handcrafted pieces, allowing us to push the boundaries of our design. In today’s world, luxury consumers are seeking unique, authentic, and sustainable products. Our approach to craftsmanship, textiles, and ethical production positions us well to cater to this discerning audience. Couture offers an intimate stage to tell deeper, more nuanced stories about our artisans, heritage, skills, and materials.

Karisma Kapoor in Anavila’s classic silhouette
Karisma Kapoor in Anavila’s classic silhouette

In recent years, quiet luxury has emerged as a prominent fashion trend. How do you view this shift away from loud and grand aesthetics?

Couture as well as bridal wear is moving towards embracing ease. As we speak about women coming into their own and branching into newer avenues, dressing up has gone beyond just looking fancy. It has gone to a place where you really want to adorn yourself with beautiful, sustainable, well-crafted luxurious garments. The women of today don’t want the garment to be restrictive and control their movement in any way. So, couture should be light and luxurious. It should be well-made and have a narrative but it should not put boundaries on you in terms of how you see yourself. I definitely believe that festive wear and couture are moving towards ease, comfort and mobility.

Moreover, quiet luxury has always been part of the Indian fashion fabric. Whether it’s historical figures like Maharani Ahilya Bai, the way she carried herself, it’s all an indication of the simplicity with which Indian garments have been created and worn over centuries. Most of our textiles are a result of creating quiet luxury and allowing the craftsmanship to speak for itself. A lot of homegrown brands are now coming into their own and driving this point home that Indian textiles are a labour of love and resonate luxury but quietly, not by being in your face.

(from left) Actors Shefali Shah and Vidya Balan donning Anavila
(from left) Actors Shefali Shah and Vidya Balan donning Anavila

While traditional couture often leans towards grandeur, Anavila focuses on muted tones and subtle silhouettes, embracing quiet luxury. Do you see this as a key trend for the upcoming festive season?

You can see more and more women creating their own avatars of festive wear, whether it is through metallic kaftans with a piece of jewellery or whether it is trousers with a certain kind of kurti or sarees worn in an easy way, with breathable blouses that are not fitted but give a very free-flowing look and feel. You can pick up a saree and pair it with something else in your wardrobe, mix and match, to give it your own identity. Diwali is always an opportunity for Indians to adorn traditional clothes. But quiet luxury is something we’ll definitely see more of this festive season. So, we’ll see a lot of hybrid traditional clothing, such as kaftan with shrugs, co-ord sets but in traditional patterns and colours with jewellery.

Given the fashion industry's significant carbon footprint and the critical need to bring it under control, what role does sustainability play in your life as a designer?

The fashion industry’s fast fashion and wear-and-throw culture have contributed to a high carbon footprint and an alarming amount of waste. Sustainability plays a crucial part in all of Anavila's clothing lines. By working towards using natural materials, sustainable dyes, and eco-friendly techniques, I believe we can contribute to the well-being of our environment.

Lastly, what can we expect from your upcoming show in Dubai?

We recently launched our flagship store, Aamod, in Mumbai, and we aim to recreate that same experience in Dubai. Given the current global circumstances, we are also exploring ways to support the ongoing situation in our own way. Each day is a new opportunity. This is also the first time we are hosting a solo exhibition in Dubai, so it’s very exciting for us. We are working to bring the true vision of Anavila to the city.

More news from Lifestyle