A “twist” to the Benarasi
Ekaya Banaras’ Opening Night is an interplay of the minimal, edgy and cool, with a hint of vintage drama. We caught up with Palak Shah, CEO, Ekaya Banaras, for a closer feel of the SS’21 collection
Opening Night looks dramatic. Tell us about the making of this collection…
It is a very special collection for me as well. The idea was, like in most of our collections, to break stereotypes around textiles. We also went a step further in the selection by actually shocking the consumers and weavers itself as to what all possibilities they can explore with weaving. Weaving faces (on the pieces) has given such a modern twist to things that a lot of people who look at it cannot even believe that it is woven.
The name is interesting...
I feel it is a dramatic collection in itself and I wanted to bring that drama, almost like showcasing it to the world, here we are, coming up with a whole new collection and twist to things. Also to show that the world’s a stage and we are all actors and how we are acting. That sort of coincides with faces, which we have woven on the sari. And, how we all have multiple faces....
What can one expect from Opening Night?
Expect fun, something new and creative and the obvious lehngas, saris, suits, but I remember when I wore one of the saris in Bombay recently, it stood out among everything else that everyone else was wearing. People came and asked ‘Oh my god, what is it that you are wearing?’ It didn’t look like a traditional Benarasi and stood out because it is so different and stunning.
What are the highlight pieces?
My favourite pieces are saris and lehngas with faces woven. I feel they are the hero pieces of the collection, not just in terms of them looking different, but how the weavers have woven them differently and taken Benarasi weaving a notch higher.
The saris are statement-y. What are perfect occasions to wear them?
Cocktails most definitely. I even see it as Mehndi (wear). And, even weddings as well. Why does a bride always have to wear the traditional motifs? Why can’t it be a modern-day bride in her Indian textiles and she feeling hip about it.
Do you see the trend of a minimal bride catching on?
I think it depends from person to person. I am more minimal and statement-y, others bold and statement-y or just bold. More and more, (however), girls want to stand out and be remembered for what they wear. (What is beautiful about a minimal bride) is that she is comfortable in her elements.
A bride who stood out for you?
I think Karishma Jhalani (daughter of Jyotika Jhalani, founder, Janavi India). She was the first bride to wear Ekaya and I feel till date, she stands out.
We love how your Instagram posts come with the number of “man-hours” spent weaving the sari...
It is very important for the consumers to know how much effort has gone in. With the whole culture of mass production and power loom coming in, people might feel the cheaper the better, but I feel once they know these many hours have gone into it, they’ll know how much effort has gone in and hence, they will agree to pay the price.
A lot of us are slowly moving towards a holistic view of life, where the idea is to appreciate all things handmade. Is this also a move towards that?
I feel it is a mixed-feeling situation. While handloom is being appreciated, people are still being driven to buy power loom because it is cheaper and there is very little knowledge as to why something is more expensive. The more knowledge we spread, the more people will choose handloom. (They need to understand) why power loom is not sustainable and why things get spoilt faster.
You say Opening Night is ‘an ode to the ‘grand play we call life’’. What is life like right now?
And, elements that make it so?
My work, family, gratitude for everything that I have.
Dramatic must-have saris...
I would definitely recommend getting one of the faces saris. I feel it is important for a girl to get her taste to the trousseau. It is something she will also pass on and I feel we need to start passing on modern products too because they will become vintage and heirloom eventually.
Something traditional like your Rangkat and Uppada, for sure. Also, a patola. It needs to be a mixed bag between traditional and modern. It is a mix of sustaining a new heritage and creating an old one.