Tie-dye’s nostalgic resurgence
As the trend peaks all over the world, designer Urvashi Kaur talks about its techniques and interpretations in India
Tie-dye has seen a resurgence on the global catwalk over the past few seasons. It was there in the 2019 spring collections of Prada, Stella McCartney and Prabal Gurung, the 2020 spring collections of Dior and Gabriela Hearst, and the 2021 spring collections of Isabel Marant and MSGM. The renditions ranged from muted to bright colours, in large patterns. A commonality in interpretation has been the way it harks back to the last time this trend peaked in the West, in the 1960s and 1970s, with large, kaleidoscopic prints.
Simultaneously, tie-dye is being interpreted in modern and contemporary ways through traditionally diverse techniques in India. Designers such as Nupur Kanoi, Saaksha & Kinni and Ka-Sha Studio explore different facets. One such interpreter is designer Urvashi Kaur, who has been integrating tie-dye into her collections since she founded her eponymous label a decade ago, well before the trend became prominent. Her minimalist aesthetic of strategically placed patterns and muted shades is highlighted by the intricacy and fineness of technique. When it comes to the diversity of techniques, she says: “Even within commonly-known techniques such as leheriya or bandhani, the ways in which the textiles are tied and coloured are many. Some examples in leheriya are mothra (where two sets of lines cross each other diagonally, like waves) or ekdali (a pattern comprising small circles and squares of different colours and shades). Sometimes, the same popular technique is known differently in various parts of the country, such as bandhani in Rajasthan is known as chungidi in Tamil."
Kaur believes the Indian interpretation of the trend is more intensive, original and refined, focusing more on techniques. “The trend in India seems very individualistic," she says. “There is so much more that can be done now. Usually trends are dictated by the West, but we can interpret them with a more original, indigenous mindset as well. There is also a middle ground of creating clothes inspired from our traditional silhouettes and merging them with contemporary ones and then playing with the technique."