As you enter Shimai Jayachandra’s studio in Besant Nagar, it is her tastefully decorated room that catches your attention. Seamlessly colour-coordinated with themes derived from China and Persia, it says a lot about the designer’s sense of aesthetic.
Her label Urvii Mantreh (Urvii is Sanskrit for Earth, Mantreh is Persian for divine rhythm) features handcrafted ensembles using rich Indian textiles, embellished with detailed embroidery. When she graduated from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Chennai, it was Western wear that Shimai wanted to design. But once she had a chance encounter with textiles, she understood the aesthetic of rich Indian fabrics, and shifted her focus. Her range of thematic collections is now ready to be showcased in the city.
“I have 11 dedicated weavers working with me (seven in Varanasi and four in Andhra Pradesh). These weavers specialise in Benarasi and Uppada weaving, and we focus on traditional patterns such as ambi, shikargah and other motifs inspired by Mughal art and architecture,” says Shimai. Hand-dyed and embroidered organza saris are her signature.
Statement of elegance
Shimai is presenting three different themes in her upcoming show — The Jaipur Garden, Bollywood period drama and Taj Mahal.
Inspired by the Pink City, the Jaipur Garden collection features dupattas in vibrant colours, ombré dyed saris, as well as blouses and lehengas with hand-embroidered floral motifs. The collection inspired by the beauty and grandeur of Bollywood period dramas is a festive one; the outfits share a 1970s theme, and flaunt dramatic blouses paired with saris, lehengas, kurtas and dupattas in rich silks and gossamer organzas.
“An effort has been taken to preserve period flavour by adding antique brocades and embroideries. I have accentuated one aspect in each outfit. For example, the blouse of the sari or lehenga will have heavy work, making it aesthetically appealing,” she says. The third theme predominantly features whites, pinks and blues, and incorporates Mughal motifs inspired by the Taj Mahal. “I don’t use plastic or polyester [in the collections]. It is all pure silk. Even the pearls used in the embroidery are genuine,” she adds.
The Urvii Mantreh label focusses extensively on embroidery. “Understated elegance is my idea of design. The grandeur of Benares and the beautiful emotions of organza fascinate me,” she says. At the show, the designer will be showcasing saris, kurta sets, lehengas and dupattas. Some of her hand-embroidered blouses, and crop tops with exaggerated sleeves will also be on display. The price ranges from ₹5,000-₹85,000.
The exhibition and sale is open today and tomorrow at The Folly, Amethyst in Royapettah from 10.30 am to 7.30 pm