Ace designer Shyamal Shodhan talks about his brand’s latest collection and India’s evolving fashion industry.
For renowned designers Shyamal and Bhumika Shodhan, the journey has mattered more than the destination. Since its birth in 2000, the brand Shyamal & Bhumika
has gained global fame for its intricate style and elegant collections. “We have been on a mission to take the crafts and skills of India to the world. We have been able to make some headway in our mission and establish a connection between the niche, multi-cultural population abroad and the rich Indian craftsmanship,” shares Shyamal.
What distinctly defines this talented duo is their commitment towards reviving Indian crafts. “As couturiers, we believe in promoting these ancient crafts and help in the advancement of those sections of society who would lose not only their heritage but also their livelihood if these crafts are not revived and preserved,” says Shyamal, who was in Vancouver recently to showcase the brand’s new Bridal Couture collection at House of Raina in Surrey.
In an exclusive interview with DARPAN, Shyamal shares interesting details about the latest collection and his views on India’s evolving fashion industry.
Q What is your new collection about?
Our Bridal Couture collection is about the clothes being light and airy, taking cue from Spring. Master craftsmen have embroidered beautiful motifs that have been encrusted with numerous tiny beads and crystals. Using traditional techniques of embroidery, we have created ensembles which are light in weight, yet extremely intricate taking couture to the next level. Our aesthetics connect with brides who dream of weddings in muted palettes of blossoming flowers conveying the various moods of Spring. Dramatic contemporary silhouettes in asymmetrical lehengas, gowns and long jackets with ruffled flares and sheer sleeves have been made keeping in mind a bride’s wedding trousseau, formal dinner parties or even the grand operas. Couture holds its place by giving all these trends the much needed uniqueness as hand embroidered details help transcend the garments into timeless masterpieces.
Q Where is the collection inspired from?
Spring brings beautiful flowers and nature as inspiration. The freshness and playfulness of organic pastel shades with intricate light embroidery have been highlighted. Attention to design details with romantic floral crests and western silhouettes holds forth. Fairy tale romance wrapped in a rainbow of fresh colours inspires the vibrant collection.
Q What has been the most defining moment of your career so far?
Our biggest highlight has been spreading the beauty of Indian craftsmanship all over the globe. Today, we support diverse types of age old crafts; our most important project being that of reviving the ancient weaving technique from the Gujarat region which is the Amdavadi real zari weaving technique. This was Bhumika’s final project in Design College and holds a special place in our hearts. We also work closely towards reviving lost worldcharms, artifacts and architectural wonders that signify our collection and recreate the essence of the erstwhile era.
Q What inspires you the most in fashion?
Our designs take inspiration from the rich Indian heritage that is well over 5,000 years old. We are constantly seeking ways to integrate India’s artisan techniques and design couture collections that would resonate with a modern as well as a traditional bride. Our design philosophy is to revive some of India’s dying arts and crafts such as hand weaving, hand embroidery and bring these crafts back to the forefront.
We live in India’s first UNESCO world heritage city – Ahmedabad, and there are subtle inspirations all around us. From nature to architecture, monumental installations, creative textile archives, and our personal travels – inspirations are everywhere.
Q Do you see a big market for bridal wear in Vancouver and among the Indo-Canadian community in BC?
Vancouver, with its diverse ethnical population and dynamic lifestyle is a leading fashion market in Canada. It is a beautiful city with vibrant South Asian population. With its abundance of nature and diversity, it is one of the biggest markets in North America, being so close to the West Coast. We have been looking forward to meeting our brides and personally help them choose their wedding trousseau. We have interacted with some of them online and were more than happy when House of Raina invited us to come and meet the Shyamal & Bhumika adherent brides. House of Raina is currently our exclusive carrier in the region.
Q How is fashion in India evolving and influencing the global market?
Fashion in India has been true to its craftsmanship – interesting silhouettes, incorporating and reviving timeless weaves, attention to design details, to mention a few. Indian brides living in the West like traditional Indian outfits with western silhouettes and a good mix of both sensibilities. The global fashion industry has always been influenced by the rich cultural references and the intricate craftsmanship of India. Today, brides and fashion connoisseurs alike are far more informed and do follow the trends and design evolutions with a keen eye.