No need to look beyond Indian crafts, say designers Mona-Pali

By Nivedita Sharma

Kolkata, Aug 26 (IANS) It is time to promote local craft in the west, say designer sisters Mona Lamba and Pali Sachdev, who have helped revive dying techniques such as kantha and phulkari and are proud that the Indian fashion industry is already a global entity.

"I am happy with the way the fashion world is moving, but we need to come back to our roots. It's the east where we can sell western garments, but not to the west; it's already there. Indian handicrafts have so much potential that you don't need to look anywhere else," Pali told IANS.

"Thirty years ago in India, it was an unheard of concept to work with an international label. But now things are different. The industry has grown by leaps and bounds. Today the Indian fashion industry is an international name to reckon with," added Mona.

The sisters have worked with Italian fashion house Maxmara and participated in international fashion weeks like Toronto Fashion Week, Seattle Fashion Week, Dubai Fashion Week and Jordan Fashion Week. After all the exposure, they feel the key to success lies in promoting Indian culture and craft to the west.

"The west has more than a 100-year-old fashion industry, but we have managed to achieve and create a niche for ourselves in just 25-30 years. Look at the number of Indian designers who have made it big in the west; in 100 years, you can imagine where this young generation will reach," said Mona.

The Kolkata-based designers have been in the industry for more than 25 years with their label Mona-Pali, which was launched way back in 1985.

Since then they have been extensively working on reviving Indian traditional art and craft techniques like kantha, phulkari, folk art forms like madhubani, warli and pattachitra and have also used tribal motifs for their couture line.

"Our design inspiration has always been diverse. We have worked a lot with Indian arts and crafts. We revived kantha, which was a dying art 25 years ago. Again, when phulkari was dying, we did a collection inspired by the same. Our next collection titled Jewels of India will pay homage to the various ornaments and jewellery of India," said Mona.

The sisters are a regular at the business-to-business event Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week and have designed for celebrities such as Sushmita Sen, Bipasha Basu, Tina Ambani, Shabana Azmi, Tabu and Aparna Sen.

After working effortlessly on pret, diffusion and couture lines, the designer sisters have plans to expand their brand and will soon launch their paintings, followed by an interior business.

"We have used a bit of hand painting in most of our couture line. Now, we have decided to extend it to a line of paintings titled Fashion on Canvas. We will also exhibit some social issues through these paintings. In due course we plan to get into interiors as well," said Mona.

And as they say, hard work and persistence pays. As Pali said: "Hard work and patience always pay rich dividends."

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