Think pashmina and we're certain you're envisioning woven shawls worn on cold nights. And that's true to some extent but it isn't all there is to it. The variant of spun cashmere is renowned across the world for its premium status and the toasty warm feel it lends. But pashmina is more than a layer added to a stylish outfit. Today it's the very ensemble itself. Pashmina is undergoing a fashionable face-lift and who better than Anjul Bhandari to share her expertise. The couture designer recently released her Autumn-Winter 2020 collection Pashmina - E - Awadh, which heroes Kashmir's signature hand-woven pashmina weave with Anjul's signature intricate chikankari hand embroidery. NDTV Swirlster speaks to Anjul Bhandari on the modernization of pashmina and how it went from stuffy to chic.
Swirlster: Pashmina tends to have a dowdy image. How is that changing in Indian fashion today?
Anjul Bhandari: Pashmina has various qualities and the finest of pashmina are valued across the world. The fabric is soft and versatile in its own sense which can be used in multiple ways and brands today are experimenting with it in different styles such as kurtas, shawls, dupattas, and sarees which look exquisite by itself or just as a dupatta, thus changing the stuffy image to something classier and an heirloom piece worth investing in.
Swirlster: While traditionally chikankari doesn't feature on pashmina, what led to your collection featuring it that way?
Anjul Bhandari: Working with heritage crafts from India is an endeavour our brand takes very seriously. Pashmina being a coveted heritage weave and likewise for Chikankari, a highly skilled heritage hand embroidery, it was a combination that was too enticing to not try. Kashmir and Awadh both are deeply rooted in Mughal cultural influences and the crafts have inspired each other over centuries. The elegance, lightness and opulence of both made a lot of sense to me and so we've been working on this for the last 3-4 years to develop something exquisite.
Swirlster: What are some of the most trendy and modern ways to wear pashmina apart from the usual shawls?
Anjul Bhandari: Pashmina can be worn as stoles, sarees or a blouse.
Swirlster: What has been your experience working with pashmina creations, which are a very unique industry?
Anjul Bhandari: I have found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences as I am able to create something that is a heritage piece, sought after by people across the world. As a brand we take great pride in sustaining the heritage of our country, supporting the karigars and to bring Indian craft to global consumers gives us immense satisfaction.
Swirlster: Please share fashion tips to style pashmina in weather that isn't excessively cold
Anjul Bhandari: People can opt for pashmina stoles or light suits instead of heavy shawls which are a great way to make a chic statement.
Swirlster: Like chikankari that is featured in your collection, what are the ways in which pashmina is getting a modern face lift?
Anjul Bhandari: We are adding some zardozi and marori finishing to our shawls for even more of the Indian embroidery techniques and to make something that truly represents the artistic richness of India.
Swirlster: What has been the most special part of working with pashmina, which is such a precious Indian fabric?
Anjul Bhandari: As mostly we are only used to seeing pashmina shawls, being able to create sarees and suits in it has actually been a great learning experience for me as well.