Blending semi-precious stones, intricate hand embroidery, and gilded gold with contemporary shapes, Bengaluru-based handbag label Aranyani is redefining the meaning of luxury fashion in India. Founded by and helmed under the creative directorship of Haresh Mirpuri, Aranyani is creating designs inspired by deep-rooted Indian traditions and values. Following the unique concept of ‘one craftsman one bag’ wherein each bag is created entirely by a single craftsman truly makes the Aranyani bag bespoke.
The label’s latest offering, Fluidity features three collections namely the Stone Drop, Kesuda and Fragrant Trails, which collectively is a creative nod to the ideal state of being, that is, to be in balance with stillness and dynamism. We caught up with Mirpuri to know more about the label and decode the inspiration and craftsmanship behind Fluidity.
ELLE: What does Aranyani mean and what led you to start your label?
Haresh Mirpuri: Aranyani is a Sanskrit word derived from the Rigveda and it means ‘Goddess of the Forest’. My formative years were in Indonesia and India. Though I lived and worked across the globe, my roots in India were always the source of my values and worldview. I’m deeply inspired by the concept of Bharat. Though Bharat is used interchangeably with India, it represents much more. Bharat is a philosophy of life that has made our civilisation flourish for over 30,000 years. It is about the Vedic Indian life where there is a positive impact at every touchpoint. From that inspiration, Aranyani was born.
ELLE: What inspired the Stone Drop, Kesuda and Fragrant Trails collection? Tell us one distinct feature of each.
HM: At Aranyani, we were drawn to not just the colours, cuts and exquisite uniqueness of crystals and semi-precious stones, but also their properties. Across time and cultures, crystals and stones (precious and semi-precious) have been valued for their healing, soothing and almost mystical powers. For the Stone Drop collection, we have used semi-precious stones like White Opal, Golden Quartz, the Banded Jasper and Sodalite, to name a few, in the ornate rims – each of these signifying energies that bring calm, positivity and prosperity.
The Kesuda flower (Butea Monosperma} is said to be between 600 million and 1.2 billion years old. The Kesuda doesn’t blossom, it explodes into bursts of flame-coloured petals which create the image of a massive fire in the field. Indians consider the Kesuda to be sacred and affectionately refer to it as ‘treasurer of the gods’. Their pastel blossoms elicit feelings of tranquillity and calm, while the vibrantly hued petals transmit confidence and power. Aranyani’s team of embroiderers and painters create each one-of-a-kind Kesuda design, in the spirit of this flower’s exquisite, natural beauty. As a result, no two Kesuda patterns will be the same.
One of the most well-known trees in India, the Magnolia Champaca, or Champak, is known for its symbolism in the Hindu, Jains and Buddhists cultures. The flower of this small deciduous tree has a sweet, slightly woodsy smell, that many people describe as calm, warm and moist. We have adopted the 2,000-year-old Indian Heritage technique of 24 karat gold gilding to depict the glory of this holy flower on every bag in the Fragrant Trails collection.
ELLE: Elaborate on the craftsmanship of the bags from the Fluidity series.
HM: The silhouette for our bags is inspired by the palaces of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Cutting the luxurious French Calf-Italian Finish Napa leather is a skill that the craftsman acquires after a minimum of 3 years of training at the atelier. Embroidering the intricate Kesuda design on the leather bag is a daunting challenge overcome with great skill and technique. Setting the semi-precious stones onto the rim takes hours of patient work with a steady hand. Gilding gold on to leather is a technique for which no manual exists, and the knowledge is passed on across generations as an heirloom. Edge-painting the bags to give a uniform finish is yet another skill that has to be developed with intense practice and perseverance.
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ELLE: What experience do you want to create when a customer shops from Aranyani?
HM: When a customer shops at Aranyani she is making an investment in a timeless piece of beauty. That apart, she provides patronage to an artisan (whose name and details are available by scanning the QR code which comes with each bag), contributes towards the education of the underprivileged (1% of the revenue), plants a tree (tree certificate available with each bag) and encourages Aranyani’s zero-waste policy. Thus, the customer supports multiple causes while investing in traditional craftsmanship in a modern aesthetic.
ELLE: What are your future plans with Aranyani?
HM: Aranyani aims to be the leading luxury handbag brand from India. For that, we aim to be in the top 50 multi-brand retail outlets in the USA, India and, hopefully, the UK too. We are also amid research and development to create a wedding bags category.