Rustic in vogue: Pankaja Sethi takes tribal folklore of Odisha to Lakmé Fashion Week

Bhubaneswar: Adivasi folklores of Odisha on earthy fabrics stole limelight among haute trends on the second day of Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2018 in Mumbai. This neo-tribal collection by Odisha-based designer Pankaja Sethi was featured under the campaign, Sustainable Fashion.

Picture courtesy: Facebook/ Lakmé Fashion Week

Pankaja showcased handwoven fabrics, inspired by the tribal ensembles of Odisha before fashion connoisseurs of India and the world and projected the functionality of the sarees from Odisha, their draping, coupled with easy-fitting blouses and accessorised with tribal jewellery sans footwear. Some models even had facial tattoos.

Picture courtesy: Facebook/ Lakmé Fashion Week

“It was an honour for me to be invited by one of the most prestigious fashion shows in India. To be a part of the #MakeFashionGood campaign was a great experience as sustainability in fashion is now being taken seriously, as it perfectly blends cultural heritage and environment-friendly approaches like natural dyes and handweaving and is an alternative to the mainstream fashion,” said Pankaja, whose show was titled Pankaja X Odisha Weaves.

Picture courtesy: Facebook/ Lakmé Fashion Week

Pankaja’s designs were not paraded on a ramp, the models instead posed with her creations on, so that onlookers could actually touch the fabrics and get a feel of them. Her sarees, finely hand-woven by weavers of Gopalpur, Nuapatana and Koraput, had muted tones with subtle embroidered motifs of fishes and dragonflies in block colours such as blue, grey, black and brown. Some of the sarees were worn without a blouse, while the models sported large pendants and amulets.

Picture courtesy: Facebook/ Lakmé Fashion Week

With a master’s degree in Social Anthropology from School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Pankaja is also a research scholar who delves into the subject matter before stepping in front of her sketch board. “I have closely worked with Dongria Kondhs and I have the knowledge of this community’s close relationship with nature and it served as a major source of inspiration for me. That explains the hand-woven fabric and usage of organic colours, which also added to the rustic feel,” explained Pankaja, who also had two models pose at the show, with interlinked threads to draw attention to the importance of weaving.

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An alumnus of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Pankaja’s next project is based on the use of bark as apparel by the ascetics of Mahima Dharma of Odisha, under The Sahapedia-UNESCO Fellowship.

PANKAJA, her namesake brand, has carved a niche for itself in the world of sustainable and contemporary textiles, with emphasis on recreation, revival and reinterpretation of local indigenous fashion into contemporary designs.

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