Designer Chhaya Mehrotra showcased her collection "Bubbly in Paris" in the recently concluded Amazon India Fashion Week Spring Summer 16 .... The show started with a lilting track with a bubbly schoolgirl in plaits, school bag and tennis keds .... who skipped onto the ramp, bright eyed and full of a young hearts curiosity .... Bubbly SS16 was obviously a return of the character of "Bubbly Banarsi", who first took the ramp in Chhaya's Spring Summer 15 collection !! .... Not many know, but "Bubbly" happens to be the designer's nickname and Banaras happens to be her hometown :) ... So if last Spring's "Bubbly" was essentially a small town ingenue .... This Spring, Bubbly has travelled from Banaras to Paris ... and the sights and sartorial influences of the French capital has coloured her small town dreams as showcased in the beautiful amalgamation of Banarsi prints, brocades with French street style inspiration !! ... We caught up with the designer for a tete a tete after her successful show, closed by ace journalist Shereen Bhan in a stunningly elegant handcrafted handloom saree with scalloped edges and french rose embroidery :)


Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW
Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW





Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris


Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW




Your show started with the character "Bubbly Banarsi" which was a part of your previous SS15 collection .... Introduce us to Bubbly and her journey these two seasons :)

Chhaya : Bubbly Banarsi - the name, was first coined as we worked on my second showing at the India Fashion Week for SS15 .... It was for the first time that everything in my collection was completely sourced in Banaras ... the cottons and the block prints .... Also, my idea was to present the spirit of Banaras .... life as I have lived there while growing up .... A lesser known fact is that Bubbly happens to be my nickname .... But the character we created is a mix of other girls I’ve seen while I grew up in Banaras .... Essentially a small town, chirpy girl with dreams that drive her life .... led me to write a poem I called "Bubbly Banarsi" ... which we made into a song for that very show (it was our first time at song making !)

How interesting !! Tell us more about that beautiful track that you played during your ramp show.

Chhaya : Somehow I always find myself unable to find music for my shows .... Probably even for the earlier show when this whole “Bubbly” story began as the “Bubbly Banarsi” collection for SS15 .... I just couldn’t find a song that suited the spirit of the collection .... That got me to write a few lines and daydream about making a song, which apparently I have no experience of :) ..... Harit, my husband was like .... how would we do that ? .... And the lyrics were in Hindi and Bhojpuri but we were kicked about it .... and then one of my friends Vernita who is into filmmaking, knew Harpreet .... a very talented singer who sings in more than 8-10 languages and is very sensitive to the lyrics of his song and extremely talented .... We jammed and brainstormed the idea and 10 days down the line we had this peppy, rustic song which everyone loved !! .... That was that and when this time around we thought of “Bubbly in Paris”, the whole idea of getting some music that could talk of both the cities was even more difficult . I was like "gaana toh banana hi padega" (i have to make a song).... Or may be I find the whole process of putting together the show so exciting that these ideas flow and I let it take  shape ..... Through a common friend, I was introduced to this talent box of audio engineer and music producer Arpan Guhathakurta and Kem Trivedi  ..... they have done some amazing work together .... Kem put magical beauty even in the framework of the lyrics I gave him for the “Bubbly in Paris " song ..... We discussed the mood that I wanted at length and jammed together in their studio experimenting with various sounds ..... It was an amazing experience .... Once their composition was ready, Arpan and Kem got Kamakshi Khanna to sing it and I totally loved the final track that we got .... It was such a Parisian rendition of the very Banarsi Bubbly’s , very French experiences in the city .... Truly suited our collection .... very French yet very Indian !


Bubbly in Paris : Runway Collection



Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW




Considering the fact that you come from a textile industry background ( Born into one of the oldest textile printing families of Banaras, with a post graduation in Textile Design from NIFT) ..... tell us a bit about your textile heritage and design process.

Chhaya : Bubbly in Paris, our SS16 collection inspired us to infuse French influences into traditional weaving techniques of Banaras .... If you notice the fabrics used in our collection ... whether it is the printed organza .... or the roses woven in organza ..... or the denim brocade .... it has a unique charm .... The theme being Bubbly in Paris .... French roses lent a very Parisian, unusually fresh vibe to our Banarsi fabrics .... We wanted to do "Kadhwa" ( A weaving style, Kadhwa is an exclusive technique of using an extra weft in handloom weaving in Banaras, and it cannot be imitated on a power loom )  .... We wanted to make brocades but I knew it did not have to look very obviously Banarsi .... My recent holiday in Paris inspired us to create this fresh vibe in the collection .... I wanted to make denim in Banaras ..... One idea led to another and we rendered the concepts first on paper .... made all our sketches and then spent almost 6 weeks in Banaras .... The initial 3-4 weeks were spent only on experiments .... It was only then that we got the first few swatches .... And I must say we were really excited with the results ..... Denim Brocade and Scalloped wovens, both looked interesting :)

Give us a bit of insight into the type of yarn being used in the collection when it comes to the organza type of work.

Chhaya : For the organza based Kadhwa french motif fabric ..... the base is popularly called kora which is pure silk yarn ..... The uniqueness is that we have used silk yarn in five colours in a single rose buti that lends it an amazing clarity !!! ..... Also to achieve the zari colour for our organza and cotton brocades ..... we tried plying zari with different colours to get that antique, oxidized silver look .... I did not want to use gold zari as that is the norm there anyway.


Bubbly in Paris : Closeup 



Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW

Chhaya Mehrotra Bubbly in Paris SS16 AIFW
Chhaya Mehrotra with showstopper Shereen Bhan


How does it feel to showcase your home town, Banaras ?

Chhaya : It  feels absolutely amazing ! ... It’s the best way to live nostalgia every time we do that ... And then when you go back home and everyone in the city appreciates your work, it’s the biggest reward !!

The government of India is really trying to revive and save the weaves of Banaras ... Infact even the Fashion Design Council of India named their grand finale collection "Born in Benaras" .... Your efforts as a designer in contributing towards this revival ?

Chhaya : I don’t think I can be a savior of the cultural heritage of Banaras ... infact do we even need someone to do that ? .... All Banaras needs is a little innovative, focused designing and clever marketing as far as its textile tradition is concerned .... In my collections, I have made it a point to highlight artisanal techniques from Banaras that were not really talked about .... Like one would always connect block printing to other regions of India and not Banaras even when it is almost 200 years old here .... I want to marry unusual influences into the most traditional techniques .... Like we made the woven scallop saree with french roses in the traditional Kadhwa technique ..... The inspiration was from the street style in Paris .... Denim is here to stay, it s a staple in our wardrobes, ..... appeals to most age groups ..... and I love wearing it too ..... I do acknowledge that it is important for us to have sarees in our wardrobe to keep the traditional Banarsi saree from dying a slow death ..... but at the same time I sense a need to create fabrics that excite an entire lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t care to wear or promote traditional wovens ..... On the other hand .... the white woven saree with French roses in scallops ..... is essentially for the discerning saree buyer who appreciates and understands the technique and has a love for handloom fabrics .... Infact, that’s the sole reason we chose Shereen Bhan (television journalist celeb), to wear that saree for us on the ramp ... modern India wearing an old heritage technique in a contemporary way :)


It's been a pleasure interviewing Chhaya Mehrotra .... and we hope you enjoyed the journey of Bubbly from Banaras to Paris, dear readers ..... We wish this brilliant designer more journeys and adventures into the paradise of Fabrics and cannot wait to see what she comes up with next .... Good Luck Chhaya Mehrotra xx

DSB





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