We started working in the fashion industry in 1998 and, since then, we have been inclined towards traditional Indian crafts. Our design literature is written in an old-world charm that Indian textiles organically became our maiden love. Bylanes of Varanasi became our second home as Banarasi was the most primitive weave for us. I remember, in 2003, seeing a tired yet contented weaver weaving a brocade, and it looked as if he is in a trance listening to a 50’s song and is not bothered by what is happening around him. The care, intensity, and love he had for what he was crafting made me fall in love with handmade textiles, and I committed myself that I will work with Indian weaves all my life.
From 2000-10 the fashion industry saw a drastic change where imported fabrics best suited for western silhouettes became the talking point so much that our handloom industry took a hit, and few weavers either left the profession or switched to power looms. During this period, a few textile lovers started reviving the wheel and creating more lucrative textiles for the industry. In the past ten years, Indian handmade textiles have taken the center stage of Indian fashion again. Fashion aficionados started adoring the redefined version of Indian hand-woven textiles.
Banarasi textiles, motifs and style got re-engineered and, one such development was getting lehengas weaved in a panel form in the same way as they are embellished. I remember we got our first lehenga made in 2013 and, it was a breakthrough moment for us. Clients loved the concept of a banarasi lehenga crafted in an artistic form. Banarasi lehengas in India made a statement then, every bride wanted to wear one in her mehendi or sangeet and some even on their wedding day.
I remember how we used to sit with the weavers and the design team and sketch out various options to design a lehenga. Every client wanted a different look and pattern. We took inspiration from history and nature to folk art and jewellery to make them look unique. Once we started getting a good response from the katan silk lehenga, our confidence to innovate was boosted. We made lehengas from blended textiles from tissue georgette to linen silk, tussar georgette and munga silk and more.
From 2013 till now, we have designed more than 100 unique patterns and are adding more. Apart from the brides, even the mother and sisters of bride and groom started adoring banarasi lehengas. We pair these lehengas with masterpiece dupattas like bandhani and patola to make them look incomparable. There are so many reminiscences in our archives with banarasi lehengas, right from the concepts we created to the stories we told. Apart from the traditional banarasi lehenga, the millennials- especially the bridesmaids- came on the bandwagon to have them customized.
The banarasi lehengas were getting re-designed with quirky motifs in unconventional color combinations. The banarasi lehenga is stylized with blouses and tops such as capes, jackets, cholis with stoles like dupattas with ruffles and frills. Our first collection – Masakali specially designed for millennials under our fusion brand –GG by Asha Gautam received a great response. Banarasi lehengas are now stable in the Indian wedding and occasion wear industry and, with constant innovation, it is here to stay as a fashion statement.