There is no dearth of Indian crafts and handwork in fashion, yet some techniques simply standout and remain eternal favourites throughout seasons. Chikankari, an art of fine thread embroidery which originated as white-on-white handwork, is regarded as one of the finest textile decorations in India and it continues to flourish in a variety of fabrics like muslin, silk, chiffon, organza, and net. The poetic threadwork with a touch of modern design elements is getting quite popular among young Indians again, as more and more designers happily endorse the art through their couture collections, Western outfits and festive wear.
Women are looking for understated glamour that speaks more through the intricacy of the work and chikan work says it all. Designer Anjul Bhandari says, “Whether it is for daily wear or occasion wear, unique details are the key aspects for an ensemble. A classic pastel palette is best for Chikankari – for the festive season, the primary colours are mint green, lavender, and blush. Layering is huge right now, so we suggest keeping the outer layer heavy with Chikankari and the inners with boota or even plain. Though jewellery could be minimalistic, one can pick up something in enamel, pearls, and diamonds or polkis for a festive look.”
Whereas, for Mumbai-based designers Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla, the Chikankari isn’t just a trend for 2019, as it represents timeless beauty and finesse for the duo. The designers mention, “It works wonderfully for festive wear and over the years, the style has been adopted by so many other designers in the high fashion industry.
Chikan is impeccably pristine and the beauty of this art is enhanced by sequins, crystals and lace and zardozi borders. We are particularly passionate about ivory as a colour palette but pastels like mint, rose pink and yellow also work beautifully.”
Outfit by Anjul Bhandari
Since the art of Chikan is already subtle, Indian designers love to colour-coordinate it with contrasting effects and styles for novel ideas. Designer Gautam Gupta finds the embroidery amazing for festivities as it’s light-weight and can easily accentuate soft tones like powder pink, sea green, mint green and sky blue. He says, “Mostly georgette is preferred with Chikankari. From kurtas to asymmetrical capes to jackets and palazzo, one can layer it in many ways. Keep in mind to avoid metal embroidery in the inner piece as it can damage the embroidery. Since it gives the illusion of a busy texture, one should go for more neat and plain accessories and not go OTT. One can play with monotone colour accessory in case the colour of the outfit is vibrant or go for a sober shade outfit and pair it with a vibrant accessory.”
While the embroidery represents everything chic, formal and sophisticated, it is a head-turner for both genders at any given occasion. Designer Nishit Gupta of fashion brand explains how to style Chikan outfits, and says, “The Chikankari lehengas as the pre-wedding outfit with a full skirt embroidered in beautiful hand-thread embroidery or Chikan suits and Anarkalis in beautiful sorbet shades are extremely popular among women. Pick a shirt collar with faux buttons and wear it with a Chikankari kurta for a formal look. A great way to finish the look could be pairing a Chikankari lehenga with an elaborate choker, dewy make-up, and soft curls. Coloured bangles, long earrings and Kolhapuri chappals with a chikan kurta will look quite desi for any festive occasion.
Match Chikan shirts with denim, skirts, jeggings or a pair of distressed jeans for a casual outdoor look.”