At the recently-concluded Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in Delhi, we had a compelling debate with some young designers working exclusively with handlooms. The contention was how only a few among the handloom experts of India’s fashion industry had done memorable design experimentation over the last 25 years. The four odd names that came up included Rajesh Pratap Singh and David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore of Abraham & Thakore (A&T). It was an uncanny coincidence then that the next day, elsewhere in Delhi, Pratap, on the one hand, and A&T, on the other, launched new handloom sari collections.
Pratap has been working with textiles for years but this is his first sari collection. 'Chanderi is too generic a term', says Pratap, emphasizing that his saris are extra weft cotton silks with weaving that results in embroidery-like patterns. Delightfully, Pratap’s summer collection will include fine-count-handloom Khadis with chikan embroidery. 'If I sent them out on the ramp, these saris would be tied high to reveal leather chappals', said Pratap, pointing to a new small line of his sturdy-strappy leather footwear that is also displayed at his store.
The saris by A&T take forward their Autumn/Winter 2013 collection. From May this year, the duo have been working with Ekaya’s founder Bharat Shah to create more than 40 designs from Banarasi handlooms that would leave many a textile enthusiast aesthetically moved. 'To demonstrate the diversity of weaving techniques in Banaras, we played with the idea of juxtaposition—for example strict geometry against florals; bold forms against delicate textures within the same surface', explains Abraham.