Imagine the time of the day when daylight meets the evening sky, when the sky turns purple, pink and orange. This beauty of the twilight sky has been beautifully weaved into handloom luxury house, Ekaya Banaras’ Spring-Summer 2020 collection, titled Heavenly Creatures.
This is Ekaya’s second ready-to-wear collection, the first being Kashi in the clouds that launched in February this year. Heavenly Creatures dives into the world of mythologies, celestial spirits and the splendour of stars. Palak Shah, CEO and Founder, Ekaya Banaras, says, “It is such a distinct take on stars. When the idea was first pitched to me by my designer, we realised that a majority of other Banarasi works have portrayed stars in a very typical way. So, it was really exciting to work on such a simple idea that could be reinterpreted into diverse things.”
Into the details
There are about 60 pieces in this Spring-Summer edit, including saris, lehengas, kurtas, pants and palazzos, each having a unique colour code that depicts chemistry between the land and the sky. The palette has hues of indigo blue, yellow, earthy garnet, purple, peach, romantic pink, antique gold and alluring black and white.
Fabrics of organza, dupion and silk have all been hand woven and hand-stitched. Techniques such as cutwork, reverse cutwork, kadwa, jamdani and digital prints have enhanced it further with ornamental motifs, floral and geometric embroideries and the night sky aesthetic.
This stunning line-up of ensembles was, in fact, in making for a year, and ready to be rolled out in March, when the countrywide lockdown immediately hampered all the plans. Shah says, “I didn’t feel it was right for me to push out a commercial agenda during that time. So, launching it in June was a no-brainer.”
Talking about the resumed operations of all of Ekaya stores (in Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad), Shah observes that the footfall is not the same anymore, clearly not on the level of the pre-pandemic period.
“Everyone in the fraternity thinks that they’ve gone back five years. I feel, even I have too. The kind of footfall we used to have when we started the brand eight years ago, is the benchmark set in my mind.”
But, she also believes that this is not the right time to sell and make money because the world is going through a crisis together. Her current focus is to support her team, “Sometimes, it is not just about money but also about emotions and sentiments. My team is happier working, and we will slowly and steadily try and woo the clients with any requirements they might have.”
The Banarasi kaarigar
Back in Banaras, there’s a hint of worry and fear lingering in the craftsmen community, who are all an integral part of Ekaya’s team. But Shah says that regardless of all the uncertainty about the future, everybody is moving forward with the hope that things will fall in place very soon. “My dad is meeting the karigars every day in Banaras. We’re trying to give them newer designs for the coming season, keeping in mind that the business will continue. If we don’t support them, who will?”
Promoting Indian crafts and sustainability
Local labels and crafts that promote sustainability are the need of the hour. Shah says, “Many brands have started talking about sustainability now because they know the consumers are going to choose sustainable practices over anything else.”
Read: India’s textile legacy has a big role to play in sustainable fashion, Injiri’s Chinar Farooqui
As for the ‘vocal for local’ campaign, its importance is ever-felt and ever-so-necessary, and for her, one has to be nationalistic in their approach. “You have to promote your own country and push it to the front. Vocal for local should not just be a focus during the pandemic but at all times.”