Photography:Rema Chaudhary, Muse:Kavita Ray
With a quaint studio set up in the beach town of Pondicherry, Naushad Ali is a designer whose designs are much like the town itself – rooted in the need to preserve the heritage, but designing it to keep with the times and cater to the cosmopolitan.
The interest in design has always been a part of Naushad Ali’s life. What began as an interest in graphic design took him further to NIFT, where he studied textile and fashion design. His eponymous brand that is in its fourth year has always worked with artisans of the nation to create collections rooted in the vast traditional weaving techniques and designs that the nation has to offer. Naushad added, “What fascinates me is how the country has so many unique ways to weaving textile and in fact, each state has its own way of creating textiles. So even if I try to cover all of them, there is not enough time."
While that may be true, the brand is trying to work with as many possible varied craftsmen as they can. The brand initially worked with weavers from Bengal, and then later started working with weavers in the south such as Madurai and Chettinad. Working in close quarters with traditional weavers, the brand’s USP became one where the design process starts with the designing of the fabric rather than the garment.
Although the brand has been designing collections for four years, Spring Summer 2018 is a step in a new direction for them. Having solely worked with cotton material and solid colors , they have created a collection consisting of printed silk for this Spring Summer. During one of his work trips, Naushad made acquaintance with weavers who are fourth generation in the craft and knew how to do traditional Jodhpur Block printing. This technique and natural dyes in a plethora of colours ranging from turquoise to pink was used to create this collection. The usage of these dyes ensured that the prints had a rich payoff and were of good quality. While his collections are generally about craftsmanship and textures, the use of silk and rich prints adds an air of luxury to the collection.
Currently, Naushad Ali is gearing up to work with Lakme on two new projects. One where has been chosen as one of the designers to work on designing something based on a cluster of style with roots in Tamil Nadu. The village of Musiri in Tamil Nadu has been the major inspiration for this and as someone who is inspired by the simple things around him the colours observed in the village as well motifs seen here are the main focus. He is also to represent India at the International Fashion Showcase held every year in association with the British Fashion Council. The theme of sustainability has always been part of Naushad Ali’s brand and befittingly, so is the theme for this year’s International Fashion Showcase.
Considering the weavers that he works with across the nation as a part of his family, Naushad says that his vision for the brand is to create a space where the family can work together; a place to do weaving, dyeing and garment production under the same roof, a single space wherer fashion is celebrated from loom to fashion.
You can see more of his label here
Text Fathima Abdul Kader