To hear Rahul Mishra talk of the humble shawl, you're reminded that fashion isn't just about trends and cold commercialism, it's about capturing memories. To the designer, one of 10 selected by Tata Cliq Luxury to craft limited edition pieces for The Shawl Project , the garment is intrinsically linked to his childhood in North India. "During this time of the year, you would see people lying on their charpois in the sun, wrapped from head to toe in a shawl," Rahul says. "It was also uniquely gender neutral, you would see men and women both wearing the same black and white versions."
It's the democratic nature of the simplistic article of clothing that attracted Nachiket Barve to the project too. "It cuts across ages, sexes, sizes, even cultures. From Mongolian sheep herders to the poshest society women in New York, every community has a history of wearing shawls." His design — inspired by the Namda carpets of Kashmir, it offers the wearer razzle-dazzle surface embellishment on one side, but jacquard backing on the other so you can drape it both ways — aims to be an heirloom piece. "I was looking at something that would marry East and West. It's the kind of shawl I can imagine Iris Apfel wearing on one hand, and Kendall Jenner on the other."
Recognisable from the 3-D detailing paying homage to his perennial obsession, graphic artist M C Escher, Rahul chose to make the scarf the protagonist of its own tale. Springing from the tree of life, the imagery gradually transforms until you're staring at city skyscrapers rendered in hand embroidery. As he explains, "The shawl has been a constant part of fashion through the ages. I wanted the design to be as if it was telling its own journey, paying witness to human evolution."
The Shawl Project
Rahul and Nachiket join names like Pero by Aneeth Arora, Raghavendra Rathore, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Abraham & Thakore, Zubair Kirmani, Amit Aggarwal, Pankaj & Nidhi and Manish Arora in designing one-of-a-kind pieces using 80 percent Merino wool from The Woolmark Company, that will be unveiled on Jan 25 on Tata Cliq Luxury's website. Says Vikas Purohit, Chief Operating Officer, Tata CLiQ, "The craftsmanship, techniques and designs that have originated in India have the ability to stay timeless despite the continuous evolution of the global trends. Since a discerning Indian consumer appreciates the importance of these cultural traditions, and takes pride in owning such products, it is imperative for us to preserve our exquisite art and weaves."