How Chikankari became the star of summer
Rahul Mishra helps us investigate
We have to say this — even though ultraviolet is the Pantone Colour of the Year, it’s white that’s having a moment in Indian fashion. The colour is being advocated by leading designers and celebrities alike for summer. While Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla are arguing the merits of a white sari for summer weddings, Rahul Mishra notices the sharp rise in the number of celebrities opting for Chikankari as the ideal choice for this summer.
“One of the most beautiful aspects about Chikankari is its white-on-white embroidery work, especially the shadow work,” says Rahul. “However, what makes it summer-friendly is when this delicate embroidery work is translated onto translucent fabrics like chiffon and georgette that are comfortable to wear.” According to Rahul, Chikankari work was first practiced on the finest wool in India. “Then, fabrics like voile, Khadi voile and Dhaka muslin were used — this blended two of the most beautiful crafts together. My favourite is Dhaka muslin since it’s so easy to wear.”
Rahul, who is currently working on his new capsule collection for India Couture Week, will be incorporating a section featuring Chikankari. “I mostly work with chiffons and georgettes, but what makes Chikankari so universally loved is its use of techniques like shadow work, murri and intricate badla work.” The designer recommends investing in Chikankari lehengas, voile kurtas, saris and dupattas with light embroidery this summer. “Ivory on ivory is my personal favourite, but you can also try off-white and fawn, which looks quite natural,” says Rahul. He recommends steering away from coloured threadwork.
Right from its delicate embroidery work to the translucent fabric it is decorated with, this traditional craft from Lucknow has become a staple for Bollywood celebrities like Sonam Kapoor — who even wore it for her reception party — Deepika Padukone, Janhvi Kapoor and more. What’s more — Chikankari is practiced by women artisans, and serves as a tool of empowerment for them.