The Fabric of India @ V&A

Friday 02nd October 2015

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to attend the Press Preview for the V&A’s lastest show- Fabric Of India. The curators Rosemary Crill and Divia Patel deserve a whole lot of praise as the exhibition truly is a wonderful celebration of Indian textiles and craftsmanship. To be able to develop and decide upon a series of strong themes and exhibits to represent the large and diverse history of Indian textiles must have been an incredible challenge.

Fabric of India V&A 1 (1)The dramatic entrance showcasing new and old

Fabric of India V&A 2Gown by Manish Arora

The exhibition is split into six themes- Nature & Making, How Textiles Are Used, Splendid, Global Trade , Textiles In A Changing World and Textiles Cutting Edge. All six themes flow together beautifully and the exhibits are enhanced by Gitta Gschwendetter’s exhibition design.

I loved the first section where dyeing/ weaving and printing techniques were explored and explained with samples and film as well as raw materials- like the dried pomegranate that’s used as a natural dye.

Fabric of India V&A 3Sample showing some of the 14 stages used in Ajrakh block printing. A technique from Rajasthan, Kutch and Sindh

‘The embroiderers at the Sankalan embroidery design and production house in Jaipur, Rajasthan, practise a variety of stitch techniques to embellish fabrics by hand. The V&A followed their work on a lehnga, a wedding skirt, from traced outline to finished product. Only by slowing the footage could the incredibly fast stitching of ari embroidery be captured, as professionals perform it so rapidly it is nearly impossible to see with the naked eye’ V&A video

Fabric of India V&A 4Beautiful example of Rabari embroidery from Gujurat in the top of the pic

FullSizeRenderWall hanging from Gujurat which was dumped outside a Brookyln warehouse and rescued by an art appraiser that recognised its value and later donated the striking piece to the V&A

The piece above like Tipu’s tent are hung up and allow viewers to wander inside and get a feel of the opulence and drama of both pieces.

Fabric of India V&A 6Wedding Ensemble by Sabyasachi Mukherjee designed especially for the exhibition. The zardozi gold embroidery was done in the towns of Barasat, Nodakhali and Daualpur, West Bengal

The last room was also a favourite. It would have been easy to finish with the likes of Sabyasachi & Abu and Sandeep brands that are known for their bridal wear and pieces which I guess the public would easily identify as Indian wear.

Instead the last room featured the work of contemporary designers. Designers that are developing their own design aesthetic and using traditional elements in non traditional ways. Manish Arora and Rahul Mishra were the most internationally recognised names featured in the room and both their pieces were beautiful. I loved the fact that designers like Kallol Datta and Abraham & Thakore were featured also- designers that are not known outside of India.

‘Renowned contemporary fashion design Manish Arora welcomes the V&A into his studio, and offers exclusive insight into his work and inspirations’V&A Video

Fabric of India V&A 7 2014 Woolmark winner Rahul Mishra’s Lotus dress

Fabric of India V&A 8

I met Divia Patel, co-curator of the exhibition a couple of months ago and she explained the importance of the V&A acquiring pieces by new and upcoming designers. So their part in the great history of Indian fashion could be archived, talking to her gave me a small insight in to how varied and interesting a curators role is.

Designers Rimzin Dadu and Kallol Datta were on hand to answer questions- And I talked to them about their involvement in the exhibition and their thoughts on contemporary Indian Fashion and it’s future. I’ll be posting these interviews next week

IMG_6514 It was fab to see streetstyle photographer Manou’s images closing the show (read my previous interview with him here)

I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition and my post really does skim through a few of my personal favourites- it’s def a must see show and I know I’ll be making a couple more visits in the next few weeks!

Exhibition opens 03rd Oct 15 and runs till 10th Jan 16

Tickets costs £14 (concessions available) V&A members go free

The exhibition is curated by Rosemary Crill, Senior Curator in the Asian Department and Divia Patel, Curator in the Asian Depertment

The exhibition is part of V&A India Festival, a series of exhibitions, activities and events throughout Autumn 2015 to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Nehru Gallery of Indian Art at the V&A

The V&A is open daily from 10.00-17.45 and until 22.00 every Friday

The exhibition is designed by Gitta Geschwendter

Supported by Good Earth India

with Thanks to Experion and Nirav Modi

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One thought on “The Fabric of India @ V&A

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