This new handbag collection by Behno will make you want to call your grandma, ASAP

Designed in New York and manufactured in India, sustainable fashion label Behno has made a mark with its contemporary yet traditional design, from day one. Recently, its new collection, which is dedicated to Creative Director Shivam Punjya’s late paternal grandmother, promises to remind you of home, wherever that might be. 

From slick potli-like handbags to standout handloom micro-bags, each piece took hundreds of hours to weave by artisans in Varanasi. We caught up exclusively with Shivam Punjya to go behind the scenes of Behno’s latest collection.

ELLE: What was your creative process like for this special collection? 

Shivam Punjya: My paternal grandmother, Jamna, who passed away in December 2018, had an immense impact on my life. Since she lived with us back home, we were able to observe the wholesome person she was. I wanted to incorporate elements of her life, her quirks, loves, values, and emotions, into the narrative this collection would tell.

We translated these intrinsically personal and emotional components into embroidery and embellishment programs, the overarching colour palette, and fabrication. The campaign itself was modelled by my maternal grandmother, Lalita, who lives in California. She also spent a lot of time with Jamna. The campaign allowed Behno to marry the respect and love both my grandmothers shared for each other with a meaningful approach to working with handloom textiles from Varanasi.

Shivam Punjya’s maternal grandmother, Lalita beautifully modelled the new collection

ELLE: These handbags are a beautiful blend of Indian textiles with the structure of the micro-bags that are currently trending. Was this aesthetic also inspired by your grandmother? 

SP: My late paternal grandmother never really carried a handbag per se, but she always had a small pouch that she took with her everywhere. It was small. Just the essentials. Our signature mini bags would have been perfect for her, so yes!

ELLE: Who is the perfect clientele for this collection, according to you? 

SP: Someone who will cherish and treasure the piece for years to come. We at Behno believe that all things made by hand are heirlooms in their simplicity or within their complexities. 

Shivam Punjya’s maternal grandmother, Lalita

ELLE: How would you describe the aesthetic of the collection in one word? 

SP: Raw.

Shivam Punjya’s maternal grandmother, Lalita

ELLE: What do you feel your late paternal grandmother would’ve thought about this collection? 

SP: To be honest, I think she would have been amused, for a quick moment, that she was the inspiration.

Photographs: Behno, Saumya Sharma

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