The first ancient Indian Poet Valmiki used the Ramayan to express the pure Advaita philosophy, the contents of the Upanishads. Ram an Avatar of Lord Vishnu and Shri Ram projects the Indian ideals of life that are showcased in the Upanishads. That of being moral, just and a perfectionist.
We have somewhere neglected our scriptures, the Upanishads, the Vedas, Epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Here are two designers Shruti and Mangaaysh who through their collection ‘Ramnavami’ threw light on our culture and tradition in the hope of igniting the positivity that our shlokas and Sanskrit scriptures speak of.
December 16, 2017, celebrated not ‘Ramnavami’ as a festival, as it falls in April, but the idea behind ‘Ramnavami’. Shruti and Mangaaysh did this through their designs. The clothes were embellished with shlokas from the Sanskrit scriptures, from the Upanishads, and the Ramayana. Pune Times Fashion Week showcased their designs.
If I had been present at the fashion show I would not have got such a close look at the embroidery that embellished most of the garments.
I asked Shruti, “Why this concept?”
“It is the energy it carries. I feel very positively and very strongly about the concept. It is taken from an era where Ram the divine incarnation was a very strong personality. It’s good vibration.”
I completely agree with Shruti. As I walked in I was greeted by clothes hung on hangers and mannequins that had motifs and sacred scriptures inspired from the Ramayana and the Upanishads embroidered on them. The colors were warm and vibrant definitely not garish. It was the most visible sign of the historical era in the past. It felt sacred.
But the artisans from Banaras who have been working with Shruti and Mangaaysh have done a job that can only be admired.
Why Banaras, and not anywhere else. India has lots of good weavers all over.
Shruti and Mangaaysh especially source their material from Banaras, more so for this collection.
“Because I hail from there and am aware of the originality and authenticity of what the city brings to me.”
Were she and Mangaaysh sending a message across with this collection of theirs?
“Although the name is Ramnavami, it is not necessarily backdated. We have given it a modern touch. We have covered drapes from that era, we have sarees sported with slim fit jeans. We have blended traditionalism with modernism.”
Shruti certainly wants to bring the elegant saree back. With a little bit of a twist and a touch of modernism sarees should be an easy wear, not consuming time in wearing them, is her opinion.
Mangaaysh the man behind the men’s wear was lucky enough to get his first break as an assistant to work with Angelina Jolie for the movie Mighty Heart …”I was the only Indian as a costume assistant. I got my initial break there.”
Soon after it was with Liz Hurley and Arun Nayyar, making costumes for their music video.
In his opinion, “People should become more fashionable and start wearing fashionable clothes.”
“Fashionable clothes are priced high. So how would you make it accessible to the common man?”
“A collection like Ramnamavi would be priced high as a lot of work goes into it. However, for everyday garments, we would like to suggest attire that is best suited for one’s profession, and take care of the fit.”
Bespoke is also what Shruti and Mangaaysh offer!
Did he have a message to give the people of Pune?
“I would like for them to become more fashion conscious. Learn to be more comfortable in clothes that are trendy and fashionable. People in Pune have the spending power. They just need to be more open.”
“So how do you think you are going to change this?”
“By being more consistent. The trustworthy factor among our customers has grown.
Shruti says, “Once you commit yourself to doing a good job, and deliver it, the rest follows. Our customers are important to us.”
As I was leaving, the grand attire that hung close to an antique dressing table that belongs to Shruti’s grandmother caught my attention.
It was the show stopper! It was worn by Amruta Khanvilkar a well known Marathi actress. The embroidery is called Moksh Dwar. The ghagra/skirt is made of 20 meters of cloth!
The actor Vaibhav Tatwawadi wore another piece of art designed by Mangaaysh. It was a show stopper!
Behind the scene…working on the Ramnavami Collection
[Video Courtesy: Shruti and Mangaaysh]