Rema Kumar’s new line of saris are slow, sustainable and stylish

Rema Kumar comes to town after a gap of two and a half years. She says she has been busy with several exciting projects and is pacing herself so that she enjoys each and every journey she embarks on in search of textiles and their tales.

One of them is her collaboration with the weavers in Assam that she describes as, “A long labour of love,” adding how she marvelled at the “sisterhood among the women weavers there.” But, as they traditionally weave only for themselves and that too after they are done with their daily chores, the work is slow and cannot be hurried. So, at this exhibition, there are just two beautiful Karbi weaves (Karbi is the tribe to which the women weavers belong). A conversation with Rema leaves you feeling happy and contented. Because she sees no point in haranguing weavers and rushing them.

Giving the example of her enormously popular Uttara line of saris (women of Uttrakhand who traditionally weave shawls wove the saris for her), she says that they have mutually agreed to take a break as the women now are busy with a big order of shawls. “I am okay with that. They have to do what they have to do and I have other things to catch up with.” But she does have the light-as-a-dream Uttara saris in the collection and says another consignment is getting ready for the summers.

What she has brought to Coimbatore is also summer-worthy. There are familiar saris with a twist in the tale. So Chanderis, Maheshwaris, Tussars and Kotas come in unusual prints and unapologetically cheerful hues. Bright yellows and greens, purples (there is a gorgeous Banarsi purple with silver), blues, reds and oranges hold their own among the gravitas of maroons, navies, greys and blacks. There is pipli work (Odisha), phool patti work (Lucknow) and Ajrak. Rema has brought readymade blouses ranging in size from 32 to 42 inches. They are piped, printed, embroidered and buttoned and priced between ₹2,000 and 3, 000). There is also blouse fabric with zardosi, dori work and prints, ranging from ₹500 to ₹6, 000 (zardosi work on silk).

Rema says that once she is freed up a little (her daughter is in high school), she will conduct more workshops and textile tours. Her last workshop was extensive and spread over a few days at Odisha where she worked with artisans and explored the marriage of various prints, weaves and other local craft into saris. “I am looking forward to doing more in the other states too.” For now, she is refurbishing a resort in Bharatpur. “I am excited as the brief is to incorporate the flora and fauna of the bird sanctuary into the curtains, bed linen and cushion covers I am designing for it.” Her other dream is to hold conversations with the younger generation about traditional textiles, weaves and prints beyond what they see in the Malls. “They must know about the hard work and dedication that goes into handlooms. Today, when powerlooms are passed of as handlooms, and there is cut-throat competition online, this awareness becomes even more urgent, if handlooms are to survive in any significant way.”

From 10.30 am to 7.00 pm today at Whispering Stones, Perks School Road, Uppilipalayam. Call 9865853199 or 0422-2572490 for details

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