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Stories wrapped in a shawl

Ten shawls by 10 designers, each dramatically distinct in story and style

Vintage lace shawl by Pankaj & Nidhi.
Vintage lace shawl by Pankaj & Nidhi.

A nude shawl by Pankaj & Nidhi inspired by 18th century vintage lace work; a glamourous black shawl with fringes reminiscent of the 1920s flapper era by Nachiket Barve; a Kimono shawl in jacquard weave with sequins and beading by Abraham & Thakore—it’s the traditional concept of a shawl but rendered in 10 distinguished, imaginative ways. Titled The Shawl Project, it is led by Tata CLiQ Luxury, an online portal of curated luxury labels by the Tata group. The e-commerce platform invited 10 Indian designers to craft “a one of a kind shawl each", says Vikas Purohit, COO, Tata CLiQ, as he explains the consumer insight that led to the project.

“There’s a certain kind of woman who doesn’t like to flaunt a logo. She looks for a story in a garment, she cares about how it feels on her skin, if it has a heritage, if it has been produced in an environmentally conscious way. The Shawl Project is for that woman," says Purohit. Earlier in January, Tata CLiQ associated with The Wool Mark Co. and has become their retail partner for the International Woolmark Prize (which was recently awarded to Indian designer label Bodice). The shawls are made in a Merino blend of silk and cashmere.

If it’s storytelling that we are seeking, then there are 10 individual stories here. Rahul Mishra took inspiration from the iconic latticework at the Sidi Saiyyed mosque in Ahmedabad, and rendered it in a shawl completely covered in embroidery. Aneeth Arora visualized intricate Venetian lace work and created a lightweight shawl combining lace and wool yarn. For Barve, a shawl is a metaphor of how India is today. “The Indian woman is as stylish in a sari as she is in a slinky jumpsuit. The shawl for me is perfect canvas to capture such an East meets West sensibility," he says on the phone. He aptly calls his creation the Little Black Shawl. For Pankaj Ahuja of Pankaj & Nidhi, its a childhood memory that he associates with a shawl. “To me the shawl has a personal connotation. It embodies a woman’s, specifically a mother’s love. There is a unique quality of an embrace in it," says Ahuja on the phone.

Little Black Shawl by Nachiket Barve.

The Shawl Project also brings out a clear reflection of each designer’s signature aesthetic. Raghavendra Rathore’s black on black weave with a slim border is an elegant, restrained piece of work; typical of the designer. Rajesh Pratap Singh revived an old three-shuttle technique of hand-weaving that allowed him to create a double-sided weave: coarse on the outside, soft and silken on the inside. Manish Arora’s shawl can be spotted from a mile away: bright pink with iridescent appliques. Other designers, including Zubair Kirmani and Amit Aggarwal, similarly, use the versatile shawl to express their ongoing explorations: the Shalimar Bagh of Kashmir and recycled polymer strips woven to create a striking metallic effect, respectively.

The shawls, priced Rs1.5 lakh onwards, are available for retail on from 25 January; shipped across India.

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