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Parama Ghosh helps buyers wear Kolkata on their sleeves

The lawyer-turned-designer opens up about the Sarbajaya sari and her love for city motifs like the ‘Calcutta’ taxi and Howrah bridge

Aatreyee Mohanta | Published 04.05.22, 07:30 PM
A cotton blouse by Parama featuring cheeky Bengali text and (left) and Parama Ghosh

A cotton blouse by Parama featuring cheeky Bengali text and (left) and Parama Ghosh

A few weeks ago, Vidya Balan chose to wear a handwoven Shantipuri saree from Kolkata-based label, Parama. The Sarbajaya saree — inspired by the unwavering matriarch in Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali — has quite a backstory. 

“I’ve watched Pather Panchali so many times and I had found the character of Sarbajaya to be cranky and biased towards her son. However, during one of my pregnancies, I rewatched it and my whole perception changed. I realised she was such a powerful woman and found justifications for all her actions,” the label’s founder Parama Ghosh shares.

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Story-telling drives almost the entirety of Parama’s catalogue. The label’s sarees and blouses tell the story of a city, its films, food and people. “When I started Parama, I wanted to tell stories on fabric, to make wearable art. I feel it is very easy to celebrate the extraordinary, but with my brand I wanted to showcase the mundane and things that we see in our everyday life,” Ghosh tells us.

“The first time I saw Vidya Balan wearing a lot of homegrown brands was during the promotions of Sherni in 2020. I had no idea how to reach her or her stylists for an opportunity for us to dress her in our designs. I felt like Amol Palekar in Chhoti Si Baat, where everyone would get on the bus and I would be left behind,” grins the designer. 

 

Ghosh reveals that actor Jisshu Sengupta and his wife, Nilanjanaa, who is a client, came by at the beginning of the year to buy a birthday gift for Vidya.

“I was in seventh heaven when I saw her wear the saree!” exclaims the designer.

Back to the roots

Ghosh, a lawyer, founded her eponymous brand in February 2015. The designer let go of her decade-long career in law and chose to invest all her time and effort into her ‘venture of passion’. 

From forgotten lyrics, movie posters, the ‘Calcutta’ taxi and the Howrah bridge — the familiar motifs became her muse. 

“There are little things in the nooks and crannies of Kolkata—dilapidated buildings, rickshaws, grill patterns on old buildings and so much more. I derive my inspiration from them. Our design aesthetic and fabrics are strongly Bengal-centric because I want to tell the story of my city,” shares the designer.

She was a first-mover in the artsy, ready-to-wear blouse market since she was offering one-of-a-kind design elements. Ghosh explains that she took up the challenge of telling stories on the back of the blouse, which offers a much smaller canvas, as compared to the six yards of a saree.

“When I started in 2015, no one was using the blouse as a canvas to tell stories. There was a huge demand for readymade blouses as well because it eliminated the incessant tailoring issues women used to face,” shares Ghosh.

Her sarees also spotlight indigenous handloom traditions from Bengal like Kantha, Jamdani and Batik to name a few.

“I got a fantastic response from my family on Instagram. I didn’t know that so many people love me and my work. I am blessed to have such a loving and supportive clientele. Many people said that they too were waiting to see Vidya Balan wear one of our creations and that made all the difference,” smiles Ghosh. 

Parama’s newest collection dropped right before Poila Baisakh. The Summer Soiree line features a cassata ice cream coloured blouse inspired by nostalgic summery treats like candy floss and iced lollies and other numbers featuring quirky motifs like fried egg, potol and avocado.

You can shop her new collection on her website: https://paramacalcutta.com/ 

Get your hands on the Sarbajaya saree here.

Last updated on 04.05.22, 07:35 PM
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