A Kalei­do­scope of Colour

Pro­fil­ing tex­tile de­signer Vi­neeta Jad­havrao

Apparel - - Contents -

The re­cently launched gar­ment la­bel Abha show­cases the eye-catch­ing and colour­ful facets of the col­lage fab­ric tech­nique. Brinda Gill pro­files tex­tile de­signer Vi­neeta Jad­havrao who re­cently co-launched Abha. “Col­lage fab­ric tech­nique al­lows for the mix­ing, blend­ing and grad­ing of colours and us­ing an en­tire spec­trum of colours,” says tex­tile de­signer Vi­neeta Jad­havrao, Founder, Ca­lyz Tex­tiles, Pune. She re­cently launched Abha, a women’s gar­ment la­bel fea­tur­ing the tech­nique, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Mum­bai-based de­signer Aparna Wakhle Verma, who spe­cialises in stitched gar­ments. And the re­sult is a range of at­trac­tive saris, tops, shirts, tu­nics, long kur­tas, shrugs and capes em­bel­lished with mo­saic art!


Vi­neeta, a grad­u­ate from NID, Ahmed­abad, worked in the tex­tile in­dus­try for a few years be­fore set­ting out to found her own stu­dio in 2000. With her love for nat­u­ral fab­rics and com­mit­ment to­wards sus­tain­abil­ity, she de­cided to spe­cialise in a range of ex­clu­sive hand­crafted home fur­nish­ings made from nat­u­ral fab­rics.

In late 2017, Vi­neeta con­ceived of the col­lage fab­ric tech­nique and reg­is­tered it for a patent. The tech­nique, akin to tex­tile mo­saic, is a sur­face em­bel­lish­ment tech­nique, wherein small pieces of fab­ric are hand-pasted on a base fab­ric ac­cord­ing to a pre-de­fined pat­tern/com­po­si­tion and then fur­ther se­cured by lines of ma­chine stitches. The ini­tial ef­forts in ex­plor­ing the tech­nique re­sulted in a range of colour­ful wall art, cush­ion cov­ers, quilts, blan­kets, bed­cov­ers, cur­tains, ta­ble cov­ers and place mats. With ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the home fur­nish­ings and linen, and sug­ges­tions from Aparna that the tech­nique be fea­tured on gar­ments, Vi­neeta de­cided to col­lab­o­rate with her to take the tech­nique a step fur­ther by work­ing it on gar­ments and thus launched Abha.


The Abha la­bel fea­tures the col­lage fab­ric tech­nique or fab­ric col­lage tech­nique on 100 per cent linen and a blend of linen and cot­ton fab­rics. “By em­bel­lish­ing the ground fab­ric with an­other fab­ric, we cre­ate a com­pos­ite fab­ric. As both the mo­saic work and the ground fab­ric (where the mo­saic work is not present) are vis­i­ble to the eye,


it is im­per­a­tive that both fab­rics are of high qual­ity. For this rea­son, we use high-qual­ity nat­u­ral fab­rics for the ground tex­tile and the work.”


The fab­ric col­lage tech­nique is metic­u­lously hand­worked by ar­ti­sans, with Vi­neeta guid­ing them about the size, colours and place­ment of the mo­saic fab­rics. For saris, Vi­neeta works on the pat­terns, and for stitched gar­ments she and Aparna dis­cuss the pat­terns to be made so that the de­sign ap­pears on the re­quired ar­eas (of the stitched gar­ment) such as the sleeve, yoke, col­lar and placket.

The mo­saic work is car­ried out by women from the ru­ral ar­eas around Pune, thus pro­mot­ing hand­crafts as well as reach­ing out to women, help­ing them de­velop their skills and earn an in­come in the prox­im­ity of their homes. About 30 per cent of the raw ma­te­rial is re­cy­cled from in-house pro­duc­tion. The na­ture of the work al­lows for each gar­ment to bear a cus­tomised pat­tern as it is cre­ated by an ar­ti­san who fol­lows the pat­tern given to her. Even if two gar­ments are of the same cut/style, they may bear dif­fer­ent pat­terns and/or colours of mo­saic art, thus giv­ing them a dif­fer­ent look. All these fac­tors cre­ate a gar­ment that is unique, nat­u­ral, easy to main­tain and en­vi­ron­ment-con­scious.


The gar­ments have been pre­sented in col­lec­tions named af­ter French im­pres­sion­ist painters, as their look and feel al­ludes to the works of im­pres­sion­ist painters who worked with quick, deft, short and thick strokes of paint to cap­ture the ef­fect of light and mood (rather than the re­al­is­tic de­tails) of a par­tic­u­lar scene. Thus, they ren­dered hun­dreds of strokes, jux­ta­pos­ing colours with min­i­mum mix­ing, which cre­ated vivid works in­fused with the sense of a place. It is this ef­fect that the col­lage fab­ric tech­nique as prac­tised for the Abha la­bel recre­ates.

Given this in­spi­ra­tion, the gar­ment styles have been named af­ter im­pres­sion­ist artists. “As Van Gogh is associated with bright yel­low sun­flow­ers,


we recre­ated that ef­fect on gar­ments of that style such as yel­low mo­saic work on the sleeve of a gar­ment. The base colours of an­other gar­ment of the Van Gogh style are grey and blue, which are the sig­na­ture colours of the painter in his fa­mous work Starry Night. The Seu­rat style has a graded span­gle of fab­ric pieces around the neck and sleeves as an ode to the artist’s pointil­lism tech­nique which is an in­spi­ra­tion for this style. Sim­i­larly, Matisse is a style where blocks of bright colours are used with a fine tex­ture cre­ated by fab­ric pieces, as an ode to his pal­ette of bright colours–at times com­ple­men­tary and at times con­trast­ing–that char­ac­terised his works.”


The process of de­sign­ing fab­rics with mo­saic art for stitched gar­ments has its chal­lenges. “The in­her­ent na­ture of the fab­ric col­lage tech­nique tends to re­tain the ran­dom­ness of pat­tern. How­ever, re­peats have to be worked out within this seem­ing ran­dom­ness. The aim of the de­sign is to have an in­vis­i­ble struc­ture which binds this ran­dom­ness. Hence, the pat­terns are formed in set re­peat sizes by us­ing them un­con­ven­tion­ally. The dy­nam­ics of the tech­nique im­plies that we use the pat­tern on the neck and a sin­gle sleeve or cre­ate a pat­tern along the seam. Some­times, the ori­en­ta­tion is ro­tated through 90 de­grees to make it pro­duc­tion-friendly,” ex­plains Vi­neeta.

The con­straints of the process meant that the de­sign­ers had to make the most of the band of re­peats per­mit­ted by the process. “This na­ture of the process in­volves chal­lenges and an el­e­ment of un­pre­dictabil­ity. How­ever, we take them as happy sur­prises and work around them when re­quired, and it adds an el­e­ment of fun to the process and de­sign.”


Colour is of sin­gu­lar im­por­tance in the col­lage fab­ric tech­nique be­cause colour can be used in such var­ied ways to cre­ate pat­tern, tex­ture and form. “Colour in­ter­ac­tion in a pat­tern changes the per­cep­tion of colour. For ex­am­ple, a tree is vis­i­ble in its lush green beauty be­cause of the thou­sands of colours we see in it due to light and shade. Sim­i­larly, close and con­trast­ing colours are used to ren­der a com­po­si­tion. It is a cre­ative and in­ter­est­ing process,” ex­plains Vi­neeta.

Colours are se­lected depend­ing on the com­po­si­tion to cre­ate the re­quired ef­fect and depth. “Usu­ally, the more colours one uses, the richer the com­po­si­tion. While more than 10 colours can be used in art pieces, for gar­ment pro­duc­tion one needs to work with a lim­ited range of colours that are used cre­atively to cre­ate depth and drama.”

A lot of trial and er­ror goes into de­cid­ing what re­ally works. Vi­neeta says, “De­sign­ers in our stu­dio spend hours work­ing out the colours. Also, some­times what works in the dig­i­tal me­dia might not nec­es­sar­ily work in fab­ric. For all styles, the colours were tried both dig­i­tally as well as on

fab­ric. For ex­am­ple, in the Renoir style, two close colours with a high­light colour are used; how­ever, for the Van Gogh style, two close colours of yel­low are used. In the col­lage fab­ric tech­nique, the gra­da­tion of colours has to be care­fully thought of. Tran­si­tion­ing from one colour to the next colour is the tricky part. There is a lot of trial and er­ror that goes into mak­ing the gra­da­tion work. For this rea­son, we have used gra­da­tion se­lec­tively.”


By its very na­ture, mo­saic art gives a tex­tile a tac­tile qual­ity. “Tex­ture should be in­trin­sic to hand­crafted tex­tiles. In­ter­na­tion­ally renowned tex­tile de­signer Jack Lenor Larsen has re­marked that tex­ture gives us com­fort both phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally. In the fab­ric col­lage tech­nique, tex­ture comes alive due to the small pieces that are used to make the com­pos­ite fab­ric. Af­ter wash­ing, the pieces curl in marginally to bring about a tac­tile di­men­sion to the sur­face. The tex­tu­ral qual­ity makes this tex­tile wear well with time, sim­i­lar to any nat­u­ral ma­te­rial like wood or leather. These gar­ments are ma­chine wash­able and low-main­te­nance de­spite the tech­nique used. Wash­ing only en­hances its tex­ture.”


The col­lage fab­ric tech­nique ren­dered on fab­rics that are to be used for stitched gar­ments in­volves metic­u­lous plan­ning be­fore work starts, in or­der to en­sure the the de­sign emerges as re­quired in terms of place­ment, den­sity of the mo­saic and its pat­tern. “When we first de­cided on work­ing with mo­saic art for gar­ments, we bought ready­made gar­ments and em­bel­lished them with mo­saic art to see how they would look. There was lots of trial and er­ror. We made sam­ples,” says Aparna.

“Given the four hands that are in­volved–that is for trac­ing pat­terns, work­ing the mo­saic, stitch­ing it down and then stitch­ing the gar­ment it­self–in the de­sign­ing process of stitched gar­ments, there is a lot of col­lab­o­ra­tion in­volved. The mo­saic work has to be planned for the dif­fer­ent parts of the gar­ment and we have not gone com­pletely with the es­tab­lished style of em­bel­lish­ing the col­lar, yoke, placket and cuffs. The mo­saic work has to adapt to the style of a gar­ment. For in­stance, if we are recre­at­ing the ef­fect of a splash of colour on a gar­ment, the cut of the gar­ment should also adapt for the free flow of that splash. It should not look con­stricted,” elab­o­rates Aparna.


The style of the at­tire–the un­stitched saris as well as the stitched gar­ments–is one of easy, at­trac­tive com­fort wear. “The style of the at­tire makes it suit­able for ev­ery­day wear. The col­lec­tions of­fer at­tire that can be worn for work as well as par­ties. The gar­ments such as capes and shrugs are con­ve­nient to carry in one’s bag, and slip on over one’s dress to trans­form one’s look from work wear to a glam­orous party look. In this way, the at­tire of­fers an el­e­ment of flex­i­bil­ity.” Fur­ther, the gar­ments are de­signed in free and XL sizes for ease of wear­ing. With their com­bi­na­tion of at­trac­tive sur­face treat­ments, colours, cuts and ver­sa­til­ity, the gar­ments are of­fer­ing a new ex­pres­sion in ap­parel for women.

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