Undeniable versatility of Indian motifs

DESIGN ELEMENT

A colourful mandala, such as the one that is drawn in an intricate rangoli pattern, exotic flowers and differently-sized paisleys, sun, peacock feather patterns and popular elements from folk and rural art, all define the rich tradition of Indian motifs.

 ‘Beautiful’ is the word for them and when these embellish a garment or accessory, there is no denying the fact that they enhance the look. 

Inspired by the art and history of our nation, Indian motifs are nothing but a reflection of our day to day life. Vines and creepers, varied forms of lotus like satadal, padma, pundarika, utpala, paisley patterns, fish, tortoise and conch are a few of the many that inspire our fashion sensibilities. 

“Each motif is symbolic in its own way, be it the sun, the paisley, the lotus flower, the elephant, creeping vines, folklore, calligraphy or jal work,” says designer Raakesh Agarvwal. His recent collection of laser cut summer bags has textures made out of decadent lacework. 

Inspired by the embellishments of the Taj Mahal, Agarvwal says, “Indian-inspired motifs have always been a part of our designing industry, may be niche or mass, due to their elegance. The motifs are used in various forms like folk traditions, art and culture in association with immortality or fertility. Our heritage is quite rich and lends itself to exotic designs; the Mughals have given us a good amount of variety and ideas to follow.”

There is a vast variety of Indian motifs that are used by designers in apparel designing, accessory line and even shoes.  “A motif that enhances the look of apparel will look equally good on an accessory. It just has to be done with a positive mind and a keen eye for design,” says fashion designer Gaurav Gupta. Even though his designs are defined as “a perfect hybrid between global fashion and the essence of Indian heritage,” he admits, “I love the peacock which is very Indian in its identity, we have some lehengas which are called peacock lehengas or peacock sari gowns.”

On the other hand, Agarvwal is fond of the “Paisley patterns that are exceptionally distinctive, ornate, elaborate, classic and royal. They come in various forms from all over repeats to spot repeats and can be interpreted as Victorian, traditional and ethnic in accordance to the look generated in a design. These patterns have always been a part of both the Indian and the western wear.”

It is, however, the fish that inspired designer Debashri Samanta at her recent show at Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2014. Says Samanta, “I added a contemporary touch to the traditional motif of the fish that is popular in jamdani designs to present it with hooks under water. There is also the use of story-telling technique that makes the garment look rich with the help of such motifs.”

Most of the designers advise against carrying an accessory with the same Indian motif as that on the apparel. What they advise instead is to go for the forms of lotus and vines and creepers in outwears like jackets and kimono. While paisley patterns look good in cotton fabric.

 However, one must not restrict to the norms for it is also true that Indian motifs are being experimented on both Indian ethnic wear as well as the western wear. So, mix and match and explore the richness and versatility of Indian motifs!

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