Contemporary in Heritage
Ekru by Ekta Jaipuria and Ruchira Kandhari, the designer duo, is a fashion label synonymous with contemporary fashion fused with ethnic Indian clothing. They recently unveiled their 2nd flagship store in Kolkata in a preserved traditional setting that blends heritage, art and fashion to present it collections.
Ekru, located at 40/1 Roopchand Mukherjee Lane, Kolkata was a typical traditional old Bengali “bari” which has been converted into a Fashion House combining the old world charm of a bygone era in the city. “It is very centrally located yet in a quiet lane of Kolkata, where people can enjoy shopping.”, shares the designer & owners of the store, Ruchira and Ekta. The 3,500sqft. store has been done up by the renowned sculptor, Narayan Sinha with various innovative and aesthetic art installations across the boutique. The Ekru’s creations are a distinct combination of traditional fabrics and techniques and this has been used to inspire the store interior design concept. Sculptor Narayan Sinha, shares, “The biggest creative challenge was to preserve and restore the old charm of the traditional house yet giving a contemporary look and feel by using very earthy and rustic materials.” The store entrance offers a warm traditional welcome with wooden panelling, a big rule filled with rose petals, old dictionaries and lotus vases. The textured walls are an eclectic combination of the rustic with the royal. Antiquated photographs, mirrors, urns, sketches, chandeliers, benches, lamps and urns are used as props to add credibility to the heritage setting. put's Narayan's, innovative art installations add value to the concept right from the ground floor entrance where there is one called “masterpiece lights” chandelier created with everyday traditional domestic Indian articles. Narayan mentions, “The aim was to preserve our Indian art by creating a fusion with contemporary fashion, thus various forms of utensils, automobile parts, and wheel cart have been used to create such a signature store. Lighting arrangement in the store has been very strategically planned with mute lights of various shades creating a drama in the whole atmosphere be it on the floors or on the staircases.” Just beyond the entrance is the cash counter, and on one side is another interesting installation that uses a combination of
fashion sketches and paper forms of women’s accessories. The settings of seasoned wood furniture with embroidered cushions and linen help give full form to the concept. The collections are displayed in a boutique browsing format on rustic ornate rails. The key fashion statements are displayed on mannequins gracefully posed in royal attires. The highlight of the store is the bridal salon on the third floor which is an inviting room to accommodate the would-be bride and her close family members accompanying her to have a special experience over a cup of coffee when selecting a wedding dress. “My motto since childhood was to spread art among the mass, and I feel fine arts & fashion are closely connected to each other. Thus this project has given a huge opportunity to address my target audience which includes every section of people. So it touches the functional as well as the aesthetic point of view of a sculptor. The spirit of sculpting is mostly associated with the texturing, hammering or chiselling of the walls with cement keeping the natural look of rustic flavour, which added a new dimension to the interiors of the outlet.” shares Narayan. The store is zoned in three distinct areas on the three levels to offer different occasion wear collections on each. The ground and first floor feature the popular collection of the store. The last floor features the bridal collection in a grand setting. “The visual merchandising strategy in the store is planned keeping in mind the brand name “Ekru” which means colour of the unbleached fabric or natural and this store surely compliments that feel,” shares the
designer-duo. With Ekru having gained popularity in the capital city and Kolkata, it plans now to venture within a couple of years into other metros with similar flagship stores
Another interesting installation that uses a combination of fashion sketches and paper forms of women’s accessories
The opulent store front has a completely back open window which offers a wide view of the entire concept visually intercepted with museum display windows