28 January, 2018

Bailou Abir Saree

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Of late, there is an upsurge of interest in saree in fashionistas. Designers are experimenting with weaves and textiles of this unstitched drape. Saree pacts, saree stories, etc are on the rise. Women are joining saree groups and bonding with them. The woven saree status has found a new high. Sarees are coming out of grandmother's closets and are being proudly worn. Designers and weavers are collaborating. Raw Mango Chanderis, Anavila linens, Abraham & Thakore Ikats, Gaurang Shah's handlooms are being talked about. In this category is also a hidden gem- Bailou. They have never walked the ramp and their creators never advertise. Bappaditya Biswas is Luddite- thankfully. His Bailou sarees seduce you to caress, run gentle fingers over them and hold them. You marvel at his creations and stand bewitched. His enterprise has a lasting commitment to reasonable pricing. As a result, it has more work for the weavers. His sarees are not worn only by humble people but some well-known people like Vidya Balan and Priyanka Gandhi. Bailou sarees are modern, yet traditional. Contemporary, yet ethnic.

Bailou Abir is their superstar. A pure cotton weave woven in West Bengal priced super reasonable at Rs.780/-. It is a perfect example of affordable handloom. Bailou sarees appeal even to those who may not essentially be sari wearers. It an unpredictable interplay between design, colour, feel fabric and pricing. Their colours are young and bright. Bailou is the “anchor brand” of the well-known store ByLoom, which is housed in an old, two-storeyed, middle-class house in Kolkata. It is a space that celebrates India's handloom and handicraft traditions.

Over the last decade the sari, the kurta, the dupatta are all disappearing from the urban landscape. Smart is synonymous with western wear, while Indian styles, fabrics and garments are seen as a compromise with sartorial standards or at best an option at a wedding or religious ceremony. Saris, in particular, are disappearing from parties, offices, even kitty parties and indeed from the streets of metros and even small-town India. What’s to stop the next generation from discarding the sari, and then Indian fabric, from their wedding trousseau and indeed their wedding day?

Today, Indian women have many more options as to what to wear and that is a wonderful thing. Ideally, their wardrobe should be becoming more diverse, with kurtas, skirts, saris and skinny jeans jostling for space. Instead, it sees the saris, kurtas and dupattas being replaced by a homogenous look that has nothing to do with India.

Byloom Online hopes to re-introduce the beauty of Indian wear in contemporary styles and weaves back to your wardrobe. After all, a truly stylish person embraces the world without forgetting her roots. This is Byloom’s virtual gift to that person, you.

Bailou believes adaptation and modification are the keys to the survival of this craft. Over the centuries, weavers have always adapted to demands of the market and we must ensure that they are able to now keep pace with changing lifestyles and modern sensibilities.

22 January, 2018

Telia Rumal in San Francisco, Twisted street, Ghiradelli Square

Ministry of Textiles is reviving the dying art of Ikat. The cotton Telia Rumal saree has been created using natural dyes. The name Telia derives from 'Tel' meaning 'Oil' and is given to this craft as a large quantity of oil is used to prepare the yarn for Ikat weaving. By clay and wax wrapping, the finished fabric is readied, on which a weaver can devise an exact pattern before it is dipped in selected dyes. Though originating from Chirala, it is no more practised there.

The celebrated sari flutters from the ruins of its heritage like the last flicker of hope. For Telia Rumal, the fast dying art of Ikat tradition, hope lies in the Integrated Handloom Cluster Development Programme sponsored by the Ministry of Textiles. Puttapaka, a village in Nalgonda where the art still thrives, is chosen as one among the clusters under this scheme. Thanks to the initiative, Telia Rumal saris, hitherto mere relics from the past, can hope to find a place in markets soon.

Cooling properties

The treatment, which involves soaking of the yarn in a concoction of castor ash and oil repeatedly for 15 days renders the cloth with cooling properties. The treatment is necessary for the yarn to receive natural dyes in the characteristic Ikat way.

'It was the most preferred technique for scarves during early years. These scarves had demand from as far as the Middle East. Later, we incorporated the technique into saris and bed-sheets too. Even now, the saris have great demand from the North,” says Gajam Yadagiri, youngest among the Gajam brothers from Puttapaka who still keep the designs alive. Their Murali Emporium near Dilsukhnagar is the only place in the city from where one can get the fakes of the Telia Rumal. Fakes, because the weavers have done away with the oil treatment due to the tedium involved. They now use chemical colours on ordinary cotton yarn. Yet, the saris are much coveted and worn even by celebrities such as Sonia Gandhi and Jaya Bachchan.

Telia Rumal can be easily distinguished from other Ikat works in the way one or two motifs are repeated several times in the design. Gajam brothers have begun to apply the same technique to silk saris too because silk yarn rarely snaps.

Even without oil treatment, a sari with intricate design needs at least a month to weave. With most of the weavers moving to the city for children’s education, there are very few left here to carry forward the tradition.

The art might find new roots if the three-year Cluster Development Programme to be implemented through Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh succeeds in providing marketing facilities.

The coveted Telia Rumal Hand Woven Ikat Saree is a priceless treasure in your wardrobe. The community of weavers is known as the Puttapaka Padmashalis. Only a couple of weavers from the Padmashali community are currently practising this exquisite craft in the village of Puttapaka.

I wore this Telia Rumal from Kalpavastram in San Francisco for a nice family day out. This is us heading for an awesome lunch.

Restaurant- Hakkasan

My cutest little niece. She is a star. Look at her bag, shimmery skirt and shoes- complete princess.

Lombard Street is an east-west street in San Francisco, California that is famous for a steep, one-block section with eight hairpin turns. It is the Crookedest Street in the World. It is somewhere you must visit while you're in San Francisco.

Ghiradelli Square for the most delicious chocolates and ice creams.

Near Bay Bridge. I must say here, after having lunch in Hakkasan, we were passing from here and I wanted photo-op near the bridge. This is where I left my sister's beautiful pashmina shawl that you can see me holding outside Hakkasan. Later we proceeded to the twisted street and then to Ghiradelli. We must have spent about 3 hours or more there, while I did remember that I have lost/forgotten my shawl. Checking the pictures on the camera, we remembered that this is the point we forgot the shawl at. Anyways, we decided to take the same route back and check. Hoping against hope and praying in my heart, we reached there after enjoying our ice creams in Ghiradelli and photo-ops in the twisted street. Guess what? The shawl was found exactly at the same spot where we left it. Kudos to honest people in San Francisco.

San Francisco skyline.

There was a women's march going on in the downtown with slogans against Trump.

East or West, my sister is the best. Correction- Bestest.

Big smiles- sister time.

Family time.