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Anju Modi shows Raja Ravi Varma through the lens of fashion

At the ongoing FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week, the designer presented the richness of Indian textiles through the artist’s paintings

Anju Modi
Anju Modi

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In her signature style, Anju Modi showcased a collection of traditional wear dipped in extravagance on Day 3 of the ongoing FDCI X Lakmé Fashion Week in Mumbai. 

Titled Damayanti, the collection, which paid homage to artist Raja Ravi Varma, was made using TENCEL™Lyocell and modal fibre, a specialty fibre solution from The Lenzing Group made using wood, lending it biodegradable quality. The collection included saris, lehnga-cholis as well as pre-stitched sarees with designs reminiscent of the iconic painting, Hamsa Damyanti.

From Anju Modi's new collection.
From Anju Modi's new collection.

In an interview with Lounge, Modi talks about her collection and why she chose Damayanti. Edited excerpts:

What made you choose Raja Ravi Varma?

I've long admired Raja Ravi Varma's paintings and have wished to incorporate his aesthetic into my own creations. Damayanti was the idea for this collection because I believe she's his favourite muse. Her beauty and elegance drew me in, and that is how she became my primary influence. It’s the ease and charm depicted in her personality that made her stand out to me among all the other ladies.

How did you use different embroidery techniques to bring his paintings alive?

Damayanti and other females are usually seen strolling around in silken drapes. Those drapes play a key part in making them glide and move around gracefully. One can witness the richness of the textiles through the artist’s paintings, so it was important for us to mirror that high quality into our collection. Each element and ornamentation technique, whether it is aari work or antiquated embroideries, work beautifully to elevate the entire collection.

Could you talk about the collaboration with Tencel?

I believe we came together because we shared a same goal and a passion for textiles.

Did you have to adapt your way of designing or constructing a garment because of the fabric you were using?

In the initial stages, I was a bit hesitant to use the fabrics offered by Tencel but as soon as I received them, I knew instantly they would blend with my vision and aesthetic.

It rather became easier for me to translate the beauty of the paintings into our collection because of how immensely fluid, lightweight and breathable the fabrics were.  

What did you want the viewer to feel after watching your presentation?

Damayanti for me is more than a mere collection. It is my way of honouring Raja Ravi Varma. Incorporating his style into my creations has been a long-held dream. I hope the audience viewed the silhouettes through his lens. We’ve tried our best to transport the viewers to the time when Damayanti existed, and to the lovely woods where she wandered around with her friends. 

Actor Sanjana Sanghi was Anju Modi's showstopper
Actor Sanjana Sanghi was Anju Modi's showstopper (Courtesy FDCI)

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