Inspired by designer Anju Modi’s travels over the years, ‘The Road Less Travelled’ is a conversation she envisioned with her inner self, while taking a stroll through beautiful valleys and the mightiest of mountains.
Ever since its inception in 1990, designer Anju Modi’s eponymous label has strived to preserve Indian handicraft practices from extinction. The brand's commitment to the revival of traditional crafts and textiles has been apparent through its mesmerizing creations, which are a perfect amalgamation of traditional crafts and contemporary silhouettes.
Each season of Anju Modi’s couture and ready-to-wear collections are built around themes showcasing the extraordinary skills of Indian artisans. The brand’s recent collection ‘The Road Less Travelled’ is no different.
Inspired by the ace designer’s travels over the years, ‘The Road Less Travelled’ seamlessly blends nuanced elements of architecture, poetry, mythology, and literature with a modern tinge to create heirloom pieces that are a celebration of India’s cultural history and a tribute to modern feminism.
Talking about her collection, the designer tells Darpan, “‘The Road Less Travelled’ is a collection very personal and extremely close to my heart. It is inspired by my travels over the years, and I love how it strikes a balance between the new and nostalgia. Travelling has had a deeper impact on me, more than any book so, designing this collection for me was similar to flipping the pages of my travel albums and delving into the learnings I gained throughout.”
Apart from its stunning silhouettes, the collection also stands out for its unique name. Revealing the reason behind naming the collection — ‘The Road Less Travelled’, Anju Modi says, “I believe travelling is a very personal concept and can have different meanings to everyone. For me, it has been about how physically stepping out of your home, comfort, and boundaries can eventually lead you back to yourself. It isn’t just about having an experience for fun but can also be quite spiritual. Walking through the valleys, mountains, and even the busiest of roads has the ability to shift something within you. So, this collection ‘The Road Less Travelled’ is called so because regardless of how similar and common the routes we take can be, the lessons each person derives out of it is different and lesser known to others.”
Emphasizing further the importance of travel, Anju Modi advises, “This collection was a tangible representation of my travels and gave the audience, a glimpse of my memories from those. However, there’s something I would want people to understand and do more of is travelling. It nurtures your soul and gives you memories and learnings you will hold onto for the rest of your life. You learn more about your inner self when you step out into the world so definitely do more of that and welcome the adventures as much as you can.”
While it is evident that Anju Modi is an ardent traveller, the gifted fashion designer is also driven by her passion for textiles and the Indian craft. Over the years, she has not only revived age-old techniques that were long forgotten but have also created an extensive library of research and development techniques for weaving, vegetable dyeing, block printing, and traditional embroidery. A lot of this research has come in handy while Anju Modi was curating the ‘The Road Less Travelled’ collection.
Giving us an insight into the craftsmanship, colour palette, and fabrics used in the collection, the couturier reveals, “Our goal with this collection was to work as closely to the inspiration as possible. That would mean working with the ornamentation, fabrics and techniques from various parts of the world. Since a significant part of my travels include the people, I’ve interacted with, the craftsmen I’ve worked with and the locals I’ve learnt so much from, this was also an ode to those individuals and their community. We have utilized a lot of our past research and development techniques like vegetable dyeing and age-old embroideries. The collection boasts of beautiful soft Pashminas, silks from Kerala and other southern areas etc. For the embroidery, we have taken the traditional Zardosi embroidery that replicates the beauty and warmth of the winter sun.”
The collection's offerings are plenty. While the womenswear includes classic saris, embroidered saris, silk overcoats, and lehengas as well as more fusion style layered looks in monochrome, jewel tones, and more subtle hues, the menswear includes floral embroidered waistcoats and all-white ensembles with a nostalgic feel. The collection is further brought to life with intricate vintage-era embroideries and craftsmanship that are so close to the brand’s core. The fabric selection is also masterfully executed keeping in mind the collection's theme with options like Pashmina, silk from Kerala, and south, tulle, khadi, Banaras brocade, velvet, organza etc.
Anju Modi's designs are always inspired by a wide gamut of references from philosophy and architectural marvels, and each ensemble has a story to tell. Ask the talented designer what makes this collection unique from what she has done in the past, and she explains, “This collection was a reflection of how my various escapades around the world helped me to leave my comfort zone and emerge into the creative professional I am today. So, needless to say, it wouldn’t have been fair to the collection if I chose to stick with what we have done before at our atelier. Therefore, we have played a lot around silhouettes and made sure that we create something that caters to a wide clientele i.e., designs that the younger generation would wear and also the older generations resonate with. I think this collection has captured the essence of the old and merged it beautifully with the new.”
Further enlightening us about the USP of the collection, the designer reveals, “I would say it has to be the silhouettes and the inspiration itself. If I can, I would also add the way we have pivoted away from conventional fashion show presentations. The ideation of how we wanted to present this collection also did justice to the concept. We chose a ramp strewn with rocks, and tall pine trees with visuals of the mighty mountains and rivers streaming down just brought everything together so well. So, when I say we went out with this one, I really mean every word of it!”
Truly, ‘The Road Less Travelled’, not only echoes the brand’s sensibilities but also exudes a certain understated elegance that sets it apart from the brand's previous offerings.
Over the years, the talented designer’s exceptional work like this and beautifully crafted collection has not only gotten her several accolades, but has also made her a favourite with several celebrities including Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Shraddha Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Tabu, Jacqueline Fernandes and Kangana Ranaut. That is not all, Anju Modi is also renowned for designing masterpieces for a few blockbuster Bollywood movies like Ram-Leela and Bajirao Mastani.
Speaking about her journey, the critically acclaimed couturier says, “My journey, as I always say, has been extremely nurturing. It has been fun to be able to put my creative juices into play and create something that people enjoy wearing. Three decades is a long time, but it has been so fulfilling in all ways...mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I have had overall growth as an individual, and there isn’t anything more, I could’ve asked for.”
Anju Modi’s ‘The Road Less Travelled’ can be purchased from Anju Modi’s flagship store in Sultanpur, New Delhi or Anju Modi Design Studio in Noida. Alternatively, one can even contact the brand through its social media channels to make a purchase or visit their site www.anjumodi.com