Best known for weaving her magic with Chikankari and preserving the age-old craft, Lucknow-based fashion designer Anjul Bhandari adopted an inclusive approach with her latest Autumn/Winter 2020 collection, Pashmina-E-Awadh. Besides showcasing the beautiful blend of art forms, Chikankari and Pashmina, what caught our attention was how the collection broke stereotypes revolving around age. In lieu of young models, Bhandari roped in graceful women over 50, making the collection more attractive for women of all tastes and personalities.
Featuring phiran style suits, shawls and sarees in a colour palette of ivory, beige, black and signature old rose, the designer’s latest collection draws inspiration from exquisite Mughal culture. Whether you’ll be attending an intimate winter wedding or seeking some warmth while working from home on chilly days, the versatile pieces can be draped over the body for several occasions, making it a perfect choice for the season.
This isn’t the first time the master couturier of Chikankari has designed for a cause. Apart from her love for the craft, Bhandari’s decade-long label has always highlighted the skills of Awadhi artisans as well as empowered Lucknow’s rural women. The designer is the only female entrepreneur to have single-handedly taken up the responsibility of supporting the highest number of Chikankari and Kamdani artisans in Awadh.
Anjul Bhandari’s passion for Chikankari has led her to experiment with the technique in multiple ways while still keeping it undiluted or having the need to contemporise it. Her vision is simple—to preserve the craft, not reinvent it. “Sadly, unadulterated hand embroidery is a dying art form and has been diluted by machine and computer embroidery. This furthers our motivation to conserve Chikankari. One of our signature creations—the Ek Taar—takes around 17,500 hours, which takes two years to make owing to the high level of skill and complex embroidery involved. For us, each couture piece is one-of-a-kind, and can never be replicated,” shares the designer, whose timeless pieces have been donned by Bollywood stars like Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, Kajol, Athiya Shetty and Tara Sutaria.
Even though the designer’s label champions Chikankari in its purest form, it doesn’t limit her creative sense. She always strives to bring something unique and fresh to the table right from concept to the silhouette. The label’s previous festive collection, Ilaria was created by the women of Lucknow while working from home due to the pandemic. While the collection featured the designer’s signature peshwas, shararas and sarees in Chikankari, the distinct designs had a playful spin with the use of zero-sized baby mirrors, colourful Japanese beads and sequins that dance every time they catch the sunlight. Swipe through the gallery below for a look at the striking collection:
There’s no doubt that Anjul Bhandari’s designs are modern and relevant for all women. And we’re going to say it: she’s reviving the beauty of Chikankari like never before.