Shawls have been an integral part of the Indian wardrobe for generations, traced back to Kashmir culture and used as a style accessory as well as a cultural marker with their often intricate prints and embellishments. Earlier this week, The Woolmark Company partnered with Indian designer Nachiket Barve, Vogue India and L’Officiel India on special runway presentations in Amritsar and Ludhiana, in the country’s north-western state of Punjab, showcasing the unique versatility of Australian Merino wool used in Indian-made shawls to the shawls and stoles manufacturers of the region.
A finalist in the 2015/2016 regional final of the International Woolmark Prize, Barve’s designs fuse modern concepts with traditional techniques, an aesthetic on display in his collection as part of the Shawl Style Project. “The collection traverses the vast spectrum of techniques such as weaving, printing, embroidery that encompasses the shawl industry,” explains Barve. “I have played with the many weights of Merino wool fabric; woven in a light gauzy weave or in compact twill weave. Wool has been used in a featherweight translucent form as well as in textured chunky weight.”
The range comprises the Ombre dyed fine shawls, geometric Aztec inspired stoles, textured throws as well as exquisitely embroidered or woven floral Kani shawls. Barve also incorporated soaring Japanese cranes, floating ginkgo leaves and rose leitmotifs into the designs, adding a contemporary edge. “The varied elements that transform the shawl from a two dimensional piece of fabric to a three dimensional article of clothing have been played with in an innovative format – be it buttons, zips, hooks or seams,” he explains. “Shawls and stoles have been joined together with beads and cut outs and decorated with embroidery, applique, fringes and tassels so that they can be worn to style an assortment of outfits for various occasions.”