Lakme Fashion Week Gen Next designer, Chandrima Agnihotri, tells Rediff.com what she has planned for her runway debut.
A graduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) Mumbai, Chandrima Agnihotri started her career by working with top notch designers like Rohit Bal, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla.
She launched her label in 2019. Inspired by the embroidery done by the Jat community of Kutch, her Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2020 collection celebrates diversity in craft forms.
In an interview with Anita Aikara/Rediff.com, she talks about her runway debut, the collection and how people can revive dying Indian crafts.
Is anyone from your family into fashion?
Born and raised in Delhi NCR, I'm the youngest member of my family.
I live with my father, who is a retired government official, and have two elder sisters, both in academic professions.
None of my family members are associated with the fashion industry.
What inspires you?
I usually draw inspiration from my surroundings.
People, their cultures, the way they live in societies -- be it their folklore, their clothing or their lifestyle, intrigues me.
The fact that the human race is so diverse in its choices and beliefs, yet united by nature, is the source of inspiration in my design.
Indian/international designers you look up to?
I'm a fan of couture because it's more of art than just fashion.
Indian designers like Rohit Bal and Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Italian fashion designer Valentino and French luxury fashion house Balmain really inspire me because of their unique aesthetics and the exquisite craftsmanship that is reflected in each of their creations.
What is your Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2020 collection about?
The essence of my debut collection is cross-cultural folk.
My collection celebrates diversity in craft forms by blending techniques and fabrics prominent in nomadic Indian communities along with international styles.
Inspired by the distinctive style of embroidery done by the Jat community of Kutch that is based on cross-stitch, the collection embodies the cultural richness of India.
The techniques of this exquisite Indian embroidery and handloom are combined with European lace and cutwork in order to create a global appeal.
On my last trip to Kutch, I visited many villages and saw a plethora of craft and folklore that existed in each household.
The fact that the people of Kutch practise these crafts not just for a living, but also as a hobby, is something that really fascinated me.
While on this trip, I came across the work of the Jat community, which is known for this particular style of embroidery that consists of counting the yarns and cross-stitching the threads to create beautiful geometric and floral patterns.
The interest in cross-stitch and this exquisite Indian craft inspired me to explore the techniques.
Hence, I chose this style of embroidery for my Spring Summer 2020 collection and created a collection with my interpretation of the same for a global platform like Lakme Fashion Week.
What do you think of the dying Indian crafts? How can we revive it?
I strongly believe that India has an enormous pool of talent, crafts and skills.
Us, being young and upcoming designers, must make a substantial effort to sustain the heritage that prevails in various regions of the country.
I think brands today must encourage artisans to create more and provide them with work in order to sustain a livelihood.
This can be done by incorporating our crafts in the collections, providing employment and fair wages to artisans and making people more aware about them by bringing them to global platforms through fashion.