Karnataka is a state with varied, vocal and visible traditions, with fabrics and weaving forming a critical constituent. From the eponymous Mysore silk, to Ilkal and recently revived Patteda Anchu, there is no shortage of exquisite handloom in the state. But the popularity of these handlooms seem largely relegated to a niche community who set much stock by anything handwoven. Today, the handwoven versions of this colourful saree evinces continued loyalty among the women of the region or a reverent wonder from the connoisseurs of handmade around the world. There is no in between, which is where dare to step in.
With ‘Weaves of Karnataka’ we set out to reimagine this age-old tradition as contemporary dresses. This is our solemn tribute to the wonder weave that clothed women from Kutch to Karnataka in its heydays. Crafting these handmade dresses for the online audience, is our humble attempt to broaden the reach of these wonder weaves.
We are not the first ones to attempt to reimagine the quintessential ilkal (pronounced as irkal) sarees, but we hopefully won’t be the last. The pure handloom ilkal saree is a tradition that is now running on fumes, with power looms getting the bulk of the blame. But perceived better opportunities and better promoted weaving hubs also endanger the very hands that guide the threads to create a symphony of fabric that is unlike any other.
At ukti we believe that in order for handloom to be accepted widely, it needs to be affordable and showcase its versatility to broader audiences. With this limited edition collection, we hope to bring these lesser-known weaves into the mainstream, by showing how we can retain the tradition while bringing a sense of modernity to the garment.
The modernity is reflected in the silhouette, for which we chose the ever-popular & flattering shift dress & swing dress styles.
With regards to the design, while we typically favour simple, minimally embellished styles, we had to try and champion the gorgeous borders which have their own stories to tell. We used the borders to add ‘tradition’ to the silhouettes without being too blatant about it.
Pockets are a mainstay of all our designs and we are ardent admirers of pockets in every style of dress. For this collection we wanted to experiment with presenting the pockets in a different style. We were inspired by the patly bags (drawstring bags) and we wanted to incorporate that in the pockets. The drawstring cords were crafted from ‘khunn’ fabric that is the traditionally used for blouse worn along with ilkal sarees.