Ikkat drapes team up with European fashion - Designer aims to popularise western Odisha culture with unique fusion of styles

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  • Published 29.08.13

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 28: A budding designer is trying to popularise the art and culture of western Odisha by fusing them with the western style.

Sujit Meher, a fresh graduate from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Bangalore, will showcase his creations using Sambalpuri handlooms at an annual cultural event called Nuakhai Bhetghat, which will take place in Bangalore, a month from now.

Meher in his graduation days launched a label called Tilottama that aimed to create designs for social causes. Now, his main focus is to preserve the tradition of western Odisha. Born and brought up in Kalahandi, Meher feels that the art and culture of the region are slowing waning, and therefore, he wishes to do his bit in salvaging it. Graduating in fashion and lifestyle accessory, he is equally adept in product, jewellery and graphic designing.

Last year, he collaborated with Bangalore-based Juhar Parivaar that organises the annual event to celebrate Nuakhai — the most significant festival of western Odisha. Meher added a fashion show to the itinerary of the cultural soiree that mostly used to have song and dance recitals.

Though last year Meher could only display some of his old creations using Sambalpuri handlooms, this time he is diligently working on eight designs themed on a fairy.

“I have kept this year’s theme as Folk Becomes Fashion, where most of my creations will be gowns that unify the style of European countries with ikkat art. Last year, I had displayed one jacket made of roots of trees. This year, my focus will be to exclusively highlight the Sambalpur handloom,” said the 24-year-old.

As part of his final-year college project, Meher wanted to research on the development of Sambalpur handloom and he was required to get affiliation from any government or private enterprise. But having failed to get any, he had to give up on the topic and instead had to take up Development of Indian Handicraft Jewellery as he fortunately found affiliation from the Union textile department.

He researched on beads jewellery that are very popular in north India. Apart from theoretic notes and availability and marketing of these kinds of designs, Meher also learnt the art himself.

“The last edition of the festival was attended by 900-odd Odias and non-Odias. This year the footfall will be even more. There could be no better way to promote my designs and the handloom than Nuakhai when people are expecting to wear new attires,” said Meher, who works with an international production and distribution company.