Artists model for art's sake


Lights faded to reveal Pt Birju Maharaj encased in the spotlight walking the ramp – probably for the first time in his life – flaunting a flaming red-orange stole.

Danseuse Shovana Narayan walked down the ramp, threw back her head with élan and laughed in sheer delight, even as she unfurled the pallu of her bright yellow saree!

Kaushalya Reddy took a moment to create the lotus mudra when it was her turn while caricaturist Sudhir Tailang’s cheeky attitude was even more endearing than the stunning stole he sported! While media personality Suneet Tandon walked a tad consciously, celebrated photographer Avinash Pasricha smiled and completed his ramp walk like a veteran. 

For the crowd that cheered them, it was hard to believe that designer and curator Alka Raghuvanshi had brought together no less than 31 of India’s most renowned names in dance, music, art and media together to walk the ramp in her creations – which included sarees, stoles and ties. As dancers, musicians and even painters sashayed, the designer wear turned out to be as distinguished as their persona.

Even more unique was the fact that these garments had been created out of paintings made by artists like Niren Sengupta, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Sridhar Iyer, Manisha Gawade and Alka Raghuvanshi herself.

‘Ehsaas’ as the show was titled was a “confluence of art forms,” said Alka later. The artistes who walked the ramp were “part of moving installations” who were “not just modelling garments but presenting a work in multi-media,” she explained.

But what gave her the idea in the first place was none other than a fashion show! “I saw one of those fashion shows where models walked in sarees in a way that was practically an insult to the garment. I thus decided to bring on board those people who have been wearing sarees all their life and who understand and appreciate works by other artists. The artistes I chose are beautiful and stunning people who know how to wear and walk gracefully!”

The artistes were truly grace personified especially Kuchipudi dancer Kaushalya Reddy in a beige saree insp­i­r­ed by Sanjay Bhattach­a­r­ya’s painting ‘The Lotus Pond’; Mohiniattam dancer Vijaylakshmi in Bhattacharya’s work entitled ‘Ghats of Banaras’; Avinash Pasricha in a stunning tie and Sudhir Tailang flaunting a stole – both inspired by Niren Sengupta’s series ‘Joy of Abundance’; Sharon Lowen and Prathibha Prahlad, in a grey and rust stripped and orange sarees respectively designed from paintings by Manisha Gawade and Meeta Pandit in a blushing pink saree inspired by Sridhar Iyer’s ‘Jatra’ series and Arushi Mudgal in an orange saree inspired by Alka Raghuvanshi’s ‘My Magical Painting’.

Created from Bhagalpuri silks and crepes with some using more than one painting as their source, the garments were certainly innovative and different. But was it easy for artists to let their canvas creations be transposed onto fabric? Alka confesses, “If I would not have been designing my own paintings on sarees, I would have been scared. It requires a lot of trust on the part of the artist to give their work to the designer.”

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