Ethnic wear is a category unparalleled. Completely a class apart, it has no competition. No wonder it continues to be a top choice for celebrities as well as mere mortals who still treasure their silks in the closet from generations ago. Chanderi falls amongst this category. Though it doesn't steal the limelight quite like its traditional contemporaries namely chikankari and Banarasi weaves, it deserves all of that and more. Taking its name from the region it was born in the state of Madhya Pradesh, chanderi dates back centuries and was among esteemed fabrics to clothe Indian royals like those of the Bundela Rajputs.
Thousands of years have passed, trends have changed drastically but chanderi hasn't faded from grace. Ethnic fashion will always be a significant part of Indian fashion and culture and with it, chanderi as it shape shifts to suit modern palettes. We spoke to Fashion Designer Shloka Khialani who weighed in on the charm of chanderi and showed us her expert styling tips as well.
How Chanderi Comes To Life
The fabric is woven by merging silk and zari thread with cotton yarn which gives chanderi its defining glint. This is the reason why it's extremely lightweight and breathable; also why it is a sought after choice in humid and hot climates. Chanderi comes in different forms from pure cotton to blended with silk and its motifs tend to be handwoven. While pure gold and silver threading were primarily used in the royal era, in recent times it has been replaced with metallic toned threads.
(Also Read: A Fashion Designer's Guide On How To Pair Unique Blouses With Sarees)
The Popularity Of Chanderi Today
One thing is for certain; chanderi isn't going anywhere. "Chanderi is a popular fabric primarily for its range. Costs vary from high to low so you can definitely buy chanderi that suits your budget," says Shloka and continues, "The beauty of the fabric is its sheer look. Many are now opting for chanderi lehengas instead of heavy raw silk ones, unless it's a bridal outfit." But it isn't only its appearance that makes this fabric the most sought after. "It's made from a natural fibre, is very airy and extremely comfortable, which is perfect for Indian climate," adds the designer.
Styling Chanderi The Contemporary Way
Dig deep enough in your mum's closet and you might be lucky to find a chanderi saree or salwar kameez that has lasted through the decades. The good news is it can be styled in more modern ways too. As demonstrated by Shloka, a chanderi dupatta or stole can be draped over jeans or leggings and belted at the waist to give an elevated fusion look. To take it up a notch, the same garment can even be folded and tied as a bandeau top with a lehenga skirt for a summer wedding. It may be a traditional fabric but nothing can stop chanderi from being a chic fashion addition to one's ethnic looks.
(Also Read: The Return Of Brocade To The Spotlight In Contemporary Ethnic Wear)