India is truly a treasure trove when it comes to enchanting craftworks. While each state has its own unique art of textile making and designing, from the very north of the country, Kashmir, comes a bold and beautiful embroidery technique called Kashida. It's hard to glance away from its beauty because of the bright colours used and the evocative traditional motifs of the chinar, birds, flowers and nature that make it brilliantly stand out. But with changing times and modern tastes, Kashida has been evolving too.
At times you will find Kashida step away from the colourpop and welcome in pastel hues. You will even find Kashida sparkle with pretty embellishments for the glitz and glamour. That's only because design maestros like Manish Malhotra are reinterpreting this craft and elevating it on a global centre stage. Manish Malhotra, who's popular fashion label has completed 15 years this July, has often spoken about his fascination for Kashmiri embroidery, which is also evident in various of his collections. We caught up with him to learn from the expert about the craft of Kashida and how he has been giving it a glamorous spin.
1. Tell us about the traditional Kashmiri craft of Kashida embroidery. How is it unique?
Manish Malhotra: "Kashmiri craft is very integral to our label. When I visited Kashmir in 2010, while working on the film Rockstar, I was stunned by the pristine beauty of Kashmir with its postcard-like blue skies, lush greenery, crystal lakes, crisp mountain air and the fragrance of wildflowers. All evoked a strong sense of inspiration. I was deeply moved by the locals and fascinated by their creativity. In 30 years of costume designing, I've had the opportunity to work with various craftsmen but the beauty of Kashida is something else."
"Kashida is basically a type of chain stitch. It showcases colourful thread work that is mostly done on wool or cotton canvas. With time, the stitches have been modified but as the stitches run in a specific pattern, it requires a skilled hand and a great deal of concentration."
"Traditionally, Kashida is very colourful, where various colourful threads are used in the embroidery. My creations are inspired from Kashmir, but are entirely my interpretation. The colour combinations, silhouettes and textures are a clear standout from a regular Kashida work. We wanted to keep it elegant and of a minimal aesthetic. So, you would see a lot of neutrals and classic shades like white on white, pastel solid colours, etc. In fact, the design and artwork also take a clear detour from the regular Kashida work. Besides that, we also enhance and highlight the embroidery through embellishments like pearls, sequins, tassels etc. that makes it appear more ornate and adds grandeur to it."
2. Could you share about its technique, motifs used and time taken?
Manish Malhotra: "We do a lot of Kashmiri embroideries like Jari, Tilla, Sojni, Kashida etc. For Kashida, we only use resham silk thread which has its natural sheen to it that itself makes this work so profoundly beautiful."
"Traditionally, the patterns were inspired by nature such as birds, flowers, animals, trees, creepers and fruits, which are some of the most common picks. Our motifs too are inspired by nature and wildlife (flora and fauna), as well as vintage places, and enhanced with details and formations from the world of art and architecture."
"From an idea generation to a final garment it takes about 4-6 months which includes developing of artwork and the time taken in supply and delivery of the embroidered garments and our highlighting process on the garment."
3. How have you tried to represent Kashida in your collections?
Manish Malhotra: "With 15 years of our label, what we have stood for is glamour and timeless appeal. Our representation of Kashida follows the same ethos as well. So, Kashida is presented in a very modern, glamorous, upbeat and trendy manner to match the contemporary sensibilities and by doing that we've actually put this craft on a global centrestage."
"Kashida for me is all classic, elegant and timeless. We changed the colours (made it more neutral and minimal), we changed the textures (added our signature elements to it), we introduced some new silhouettes like jackets, skirts, tunics, kalidars, capes, asymmetrical tops etc. besides the regular lehengas, sarees and shararas."
"We have also made the entire Bollywood wear it on-ramp, red carpet, events and other parties that really helped the craft penetrate the farthest of the circuits and eventually created a great interaction for this craft."
4. Tell us about your latest Taban collection. What made you dedicate it to Kashmiri embroidery?
Manish Malhotra: "Taban is deftly embroidered with threadwork and playfully experimental bright textures. This Manish Malhotra essentials collection is a celebration of womanhood and her deep affair with glamour. It's a freedom from fear, a pledge of self-care, a dream of living the dreams."
"Just before we went to the lockdown, we shot our 'Taban' collection which means a 'luminous world'. The collection is very glamorous. Just when we sent the collection to the stores, we went into lockdown in 3-4 days. So, it was on hold for over 80 days, but now it's been launched in stores across India."
"Kashmiri craft is so close to me. I personally love its finesse, detailing and timeless appeal. Kashmiri embroidery in one form or the other is always there in my collection for any season."
5. Kashida in bridal wear, your thoughts?
Manish Malhotra: "It definitely works. What could be better than kashida? Its rich allure and the traditional vibe is something one could never go wrong with. It would look even better on jewel tones but truth be told, Kashida looks brilliant on any and every colour because it just uplifts the whole appeal of the colour. A lot of brides come to me referencing some of my movie works but want their own interpretation to it and I feel it's a wonderful time."
"So, if you're thinking of wearing Kashida, you can't go wrong. Wear it the way you like. It's wonderful in every way possible."Comments
From stoles, pherens and kurta-sets to statement lehengas, welcome beautiful kashida fashion pieces in your style closet!