Beyond The Ramp

February 25, 2014
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Seeing the slender models walk the runway in dazzling silhouettes, I only liked to believe that these clothes were made in heaven with perfection of sorts. The glamour around these fashion buys is so high that it does not seem like a big deal if the likes of Rohit Bal and Tarun Tahilliani themselves sewed every inch. But is that how it really does shape up? This small fashion project will take us through the making of what rules the runways and fashion glossies. 
Walking through the desolated or rather dingy lanes of Delhi where you find these creative artisans, traditionally called the Darzi.
They dwell in houses with imperfect wall-paint but they know exactly how to give that dress the perfect shape and colour.
That´s their most important war machine. They sit on it to work, to have chai and to gossip in between the tiresome stitching. It is their very workstation.
Pair of scissors! Needs not much explanation! Does it?
He posed without asking. It`s not often that someone gets to them to take photos or to talk and try and understand them. After-all, they are used to working behind the scenes.
I have always been fascinated with that measuring tape that they hang around their necks like doctors hang stethoscope. The clothes actually fit right because of this magical ´Inchi Tape`.
Their are many markets in Delhi where you can get raw material for making these beauties but Lajpat Nagar seems predominant. You can get any lace, trims, frills, fabrics that you can possibly think of.  
And there would be so many choices that you possibly can´t decide. Maybe, that´s where the designer´s skill-set comes handy.
Darzis often don´t work alone. They work in the company of a mannequin. 
Stitching is such a matter of syncing. It`s like one of those composite exercises in the gym that make your hands and legs work at the same time;such as cross training.
I often noticed a frown while they work. But this frown comes out of concentration and not tension.
Sewing delicate fabrics is matter of great precision. They can`t exactly go wrong. Otherwise, the hefty price tags wont seem justified.
I found it so difficult to click pictures in this tiny room. I could barely breathe. I felt suffocated. As I zoomed into this box of threads, I realised the reason was 502 Pataka Bidi ( Indian tobacco sticks)
Another place, another kind of work. But the reason remains same- to create beautiful clothes. What makes a cloth regal is the embroidery and the handwork done on it. It takes days and days to put things exactly how the designers visualise.
Simple sewing does not suffice. There are different types of sewing machines that are used for stitching. It also depends on the kind of fabric that is worked upon.
One common thing I saw in all the darzis and weavers I met was earplugs. Well, they all listen to music while they work. That truly makes this business a melodious one.
I don´t know how they do it. But putting each sequin and thread in such a beautiful way seems difficult. We generally credit the designers for thinking such designs but how many times do we think about these skillful hands and patient minds that put things exactly in the manner thought.
It took me three staircases with no light to get to this room where an entire family lives and does embroidery work for a prominent designer in Shahpur Jat. I wish they were paid enough to atleast install some light in the tiny stairway. I almost tripped thrice.
Another one with music on. I think they live in a state of trance.
You cannot possibly imagine how many people work in a small room; yet they work without being distracted by each other. We should learn from them.
Talking beyond runways, how can we forget the tie and dye professionals; traditionally called `Rangrez`.
It really interests me how they mix colours and create such pretty fabrics. Sometimes, I just stand and watch them do it.
A small colour palette, pair of utensils and fuel to light the stove. You give them these basics and they will create colourful wonders. 
And finally when all these magicians have worked their way, we sit back and watch these celebrities sashay down the ramp wearing clothes from the magical lanes that we just traveled
(Here, Kangana Ranaut walking for JJ Valaya

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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2 Comments

  • Reply shruti September 22, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Hi Shagun, I loved this post.. can you please also tell the extact address or location ?

    • Reply Shagun Tomar September 27, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      Thanks much Shruti. Its difficult to reveal the addresses because that was the pre condition of the designers who let me take the photos. However, some photos like the tie and dye, shops are taken in the regular lanes of the Shahpur Jat area and lajpat nagar. They are easy to spot:) I hope I answered you well. If not please clarify what exactly you want to enquire about.

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