The Fabric of India finds itâ€™s a place at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, as part of the exhibition in the form of gleaming moon motifs on airy odhnis created by Good Earth. The highlight of the V&A India Festival, marks 25 years of the museum's Nehru Gallery, coincides with 20 years of Good Earth.
Indiaâ€™s top dÃ©cor label, Good Earth CEO Simran Lal said that the design house display to include ajrakh siyahi jackets in velvet instead of the typical silk, dyed a deep aubergine-black with iron shavings put in molasses. The blood, sweat, and tears that go into a handcrafted product-that's luxury.
With hand looms or hand blocks, there's a piece of the craftsman in it, a piece of his emotions. India is one of few countries where this still exists.
Since its inception as a small store in Mumbai to its current worldwide presence, that's the legacy Good Earth is committed to preserving. That the V&A approached the brand for this collaboration isn't a surprise-they've always been in sync. Five years ago, Good Earth created a Golconda collection inspired by the Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan's 18th-century chintz tent; that piece is now a focus of the exhibition, which opens in October.
Lal and her team are reviving some old designs and planning a new range, but creating these handmade products is tricky. Craftsmanship is inherited in India. Master craftsmen were up there in society, but many lost opportunities and money since industrialization, said Lal. A big challenge is to get him back on his feet and give him back his pride.
As passionate as she is about restoring their stature, the products have the Good Earth stamp of innovation. Three years ago, for a naqashi (painting on papier mÃƒÂ¢chÃƒÂ©) collection, they worked with craftsmen who seemed stuck in their old ways. They were using a single-haired brush for fine, detailed motifs, and slowly losing their sight, so they changed the shapes and did bowls and trays, and the scale of the motif, said Lal.
The evolution of Indian textiles is, in part, what The Fabric of India also addresses, with 200-odd pieces from the 3rd to 21st centuries. It includes beetle wings embroidery, the new wave of khadi fashion, and designer Rajesh Pratap Singh's gamcha jacket-6,000 years of Indian history distilled into one exhibition. They want to give the craftsmen a lot of work, and maintain lasting relationships with them.
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