Archive | October, 2003

Snuggling Up To Tagore

9 Oct

Snuggling up to Tagore

You could wrap yourself in some pricey art this winter.

Bangalore Agenda Task Force member Kalpana Kar (right) in one of Reetika Mehra Dalal’s (above) creations.

WHAT STARTED as a hobby to earn some pocket money is today bread and butter for Reetika Mehra Dalal — designer bread and exotic butter, if you please. The teenager, who started out with a borrowed sewing machine while studying English Literature, today heads a premier apparel brand, DAKS, touted as a favourite with the British royalty.

Ms. Dalal, 35, has been declared one of the five youngest women CEOs heading an international apparel brand in India. And when the bubbly lady isn’t expanding the DAKS showroom count from one to 21 within a year and a half, she is managing a 400-strong workforce in Lucknow, getting them to do chikan work.

And it is the beautiful craft of chikan needlework that is making news today. Ms. Dalal will be exhibiting 50 exquisite pashmina shawls featuring intricate chikan work. “When the CEO of Le Pashmina saw some of my work in London, he was impressed enough to ask me to try chikan embroidery on pashmina. The idea was brilliant, though for my artisans, it was a big challenge. But after four months of work, I think the result was definitely worth the effort!” said Ms. Dalal, as she displayed the beautifully embroidered shawls.

Le Pashmina, along with People For Animals, is having an exhibition-cum-sale of hand-woven pashminas with delicate embroidery and prints inspired by paintings of great masters like Rabindranath Tagore, Gulam Rasool Santosh, Jamini Roy, Nandalal Bose, Devyani Krishnan, Gopal Ghosh, and Benode Behare Mukherjee. With permission from the government, the paintings were taken to France, the prints made, and transferred on pashminas. The impressions have been hand-painted on pashminas of the finest count, say the organisers.

The Bangalore-based Dalal is one of the six designers chosen by Le Pashmina to create “wearable art” for the PFA fundraiser. The other designers are Rohit Bal, Monapali, Hemant Trivedi, Neeta Lulla, and Manoviraj Khosla. “I’m thrilled, of course, but all this constitutes work. Whether I’m making embroidered kurtis and exporting over a 1,000 each week, or opening DAKS showrooms, I’m just doing my job. But when there is creative touch to the job, then it becomes fun!” beamed the lady who has had a lot of fun designing for Bollywood heroines such as Kajol and Amrita Singh in films such as Baazigar, Aaina, and Yeh Dillagi. Reetika has also designed personal wardrobes for several Bollywood personalities under her label Reetika Signature Collection.

The Masterpiece Collection at Leela Palace Hotel today is scheduled to be launched by PFA Chairperson, Maneka Gandhi. The shawls, priced between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 18,000 each, are guaranteed never to go out of fashion. “When you’re paying so much for it, you want to pass it on to your granddaughter!” exclaimed Ms. Dalal, whose artisans have done jaali, phanda, and murli chikan work.

If your purse is heavy, and your concern for animals deep, and your heart is set on a soft pashmina stole, scarf or shawl, then go ahead — wrap yourself in art. The exhibition is on till October 11 at The Leela Palace.


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