Culture

8 artisans, 30 days: Each sari from Good Earth’s debut couture collection is handmade with love

The Miniaturist is a collection of Indian ensembles

Speak to Deepshikha Khanna about her work, and words like 'devotion' and 'trance' come up in the conversation. As the head of product development at Good Earth, she spent the last eight months knee-deep in the creation of something new — the brand showcased its first couture collection at Lakmé Fashion Week last month, eight years after launching its apparel label, Sustain. The show, which took place at its store in Mumbai, was everything you would imagine founders Anita Lal and Simran Lal would conjure up — earthy, romantic and as modern-Indian as it can get.

“We finally bit the bullet,” laughs Khanna. “At Good Earth, we were doing this quietly in our little corner for a while, but this platform will help us pass on the word far and wide.” When you hand-create a sari that takes eight karigars 30 days of intense labour to make, you want the world to see. “On an average, every garment we created has taken at least 12 days,” says Namrata Rathi, senior designer, Good Earth Sustain, who has worked on the collection with Khanna.

Titled The Miniaturist, it is a collection of Indian ensembles exploring gota as the primary craft, showcasing it through the lens of India’s 11th-century miniature art tradition. “Like miniature paintings that you can only appreciate up close, our work is so fine that you have to experience it up close, too,” says Khanna. It was Delhi-based Rathi’s ancestral connection to Jaipur that brought them to gota — not surprisingly, for Good Earth, it has always been about the roots. “I came across these beautiful ghaghris that belonged to my great-grandmother. I learned a lot about technique and colour from those,” says Rathi.

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In Jaipur, they found master craftsmen who, even today, continue to work with gota in as close to its purest form as possible, and also create it for the royal families of the region. “It is their trade secret. So, we are not at liberty to share their exact technique, but there is none of the plastic and nylon in the gota that has made it stiff and really diluted the craft through the years,” says Rathi. The soft pliability of this traditional lace allowed them greater ease to bring the stories from their imagination on to the fabric. “In my head, I was imagining a woman waiting for her lover to come home on a star-studded night,” says Rathi, who confesses to being a die hard romantic.

colour swatches
Colour swatches from the collection

A moonless starry sky, the Mughal gardens and women warriors on their steeds were all inspiration for the motifs on these pieces that will retail starting at Rs 2,00,000.

And of course, the collection had to speak the Good Earth language. So, none of the clamorous intensity of shiny gota on rani pink; the volume has been tuned down to incorporate afeek ka rang or the colour of a female pigeon, jamuni and gulabi, all pastelised for a romantic feel. Natural dye has been used to give the gota an antique look, and in the process, Khanna and Rathi have also made the effort to include endangered techniques like ombre and farad block-printing. As Rathi puts it, “Here is a craft that has always been looked at in a certain way. We thought it would be a good time to showcase it through the eyes of Good Earth.”

Photograph: Nishanth Radhakrishnan
Settings editor: Akshita Singh
Hair and makep-up: Levo Salon
Assisted by: Pujarini Ghosh (Styling)

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