Legacy brand Shanti Banaras is here to depict a brand-new chapter in the fight to conserve the tiger. This is a synergy melding two polar opposite concepts, that of a traditional weave and the other highlighting the alarming reality of wildlife deterioration corroborates the very fact that fashion is always at the forefront of championing issues often brushed under the carpet. Their visually engaging campaign is shot in way that it reveals the lesser-known details of the quandary India’s conservationists have long been grappling with.
Expounding more on the same, Khushi Shah of Shanti Banaras added, “Across forms, these geometric installations tell stories of tiger conservation changing India, overpopulated tigers in shrinking spaces and the human urge to push against their boundaries further in the quest for development.” We caught up with her to get into the nitty-gritty of its making, and here’s what the founder had to say.
ELLE: How did the idea of ‘RoaR’ come into being?
Khushi Shah (KS): The genesis of RoaR started with the aim to celebrate the tiger — a motif you’ll see throughout the collection — but we wanted the campaign to serve as a wake-up call to shed light on human-tiger conflicts in India. An astonishing tale of man and beast hunting down each other unfolds in this series, as habitats shrink but tiger numbers start to rise for the first time in a century. And it’s this battle for turf that could leave both sides bleeding. Habitat loss has forced tigers closer to human habitation where they are at risk of being hunted and these conflicts will continue to rise unless the destruction and loss of forests is halted.
ELLE: What challenges did you face in translating the concept sartorially, in the form of drapes?
KS: The collection uses handwoven Banarasi weaves in pure silk, elevated by the craft of Badia, which is a very time-consuming technique. This technique is typically used in Rajasthan, but in ‘RoaR’, Shanti Banaras borrows this technique for Banarasi weaves to bring a Tiger’s fierce grace to vibrant sarees and lehengas. The collection explodes in rich purples, blues and oranges with the shimmer of silvery Badia work.
ELLE: Take us through the weaving process and ornamentation utilised in crafting the saris.
KS: The traditional textile craft of Badia uses slabs of metal that are melted and pierced through steel sheets before being drawn into fine wires. The resultant Badia wire is then used in intricate zardosi work making every piece a piece of art.
ELLE: Could you shed some light on the fabulous art direction for your campaign?
KS: The art direction is done by the very talented Pranoy Sarkar, who has also photographed the campaign and helped bring this story to light. The photographs are set against illuminative installations in the wilderness that tell the tragic story of our national animal. These geometric installations tell stories of stealing homes from tigers to make our own and our sense of co-existence and self-reflection.
Fashion and social commentary have always gone hand in hand. What change do you aim to implement with your new collection?
KS: Our campaign presents a new chapter that has opened up in the battle to save the tiger. The aim is to transport you into the rich world of tigers while instilling a hope to inspire its conservation efforts in India.
Name one celebrity you’d love to see in your new collection.
KS: I can’t name one celebrity — but I’d love to see this collection on anyone who cares deeply for our planet and understands that the tiger is part of our humanity.