Timeless Chanderi: Ways To Add The Weave To Your Wardrobe

Chanderi, the heritage fabric from Madhya Pradesh, once relegated to royalty, promises to add a sheen to your festivities this year.

Shweta Vepa Vyas

Wispy, lustrous and luxurious, the charm of Chanderi is hard to resist. Originating in the heart of India—the town of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh - the history of this fabric goes back to Vedic times. Often described as ‘light as air’, the gossamer fabric was used to drape royals in the days of yore. To date, the heritage weave enjoys patronage from royals - the Scindia family has been instrumental in the revival of this weave that now has a Geographical Index (GI) tag. In recent years, the fabric has also been endorsed by leading fashion designers with names like Sanjay Garg, Rahul Mishra Anita Dongre and Archana Jaju bringing it to the forefront. With Bollywood actors like Vidya Balan, Kareena Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor also endorsing it, the weave has gotten another impetus. Here’s how you can adorn the historical textile this festive season.

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©Archana Jaju

Say yes to sustainability  

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©Punit Balana

Designer Archana Jaju, who’s worked extensively with handlooms, believes Chanderi is one of the most beautiful fabrics of all time. “Despite its charm and beauty, there came a stage when it was almost forgotten. However, it soon received a place in several collections in contemporary fashion which resonates with the modern Indian woman. Designers are extending their support to revive this rich craft and build on sustainability.” Designer Punit Balana who’s also been championing the cause of handlooms believes the initiatives to revive the handloom industry have had a ripple effect: “Not only have these initiatives created wonderful opportunities for the weavers to make a living but also given them a platform to showcase their workmanship. Being a homegrown brand, I understand the importance of ‘Made in India’ and by the revival of this industry, we are stepping closer to responsible fashion.”

Draping it right

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Balana who’s created everything from shararas to lehengas to kurta sets in the fabric believes it lends itself beautifully to embroidery. A Chanderi lehenga is a great pick for the festive season as it’s lightweight, yet exuberant. For Jaju, the most popular way to wear Chanderi is in the form of a sari. “They have timeless appeal and can be styled for multiple occasions. Something with a classic print works for casual wear while a piece with embellishments and opulent embroidery works for occasion wear.” She also points to handwoven Chanderi kurtas that have a fresh and natural look. Pallavi Saxena Jain of Saksh Life, a chikankaari revival enterprise, too believes this festive season is all about Chanderi. “Hand-embroidered pieces in vibrant hues with surface ornamentation like Gota Patti, zari, mirror work and chikankaari are making a comeback this Diwali.”  

Styling tips

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As we prep for the festive season, here are some tips to style your Chanderi ensemble.

  1. A Chanderi kurta can be styled in a contemporary manner with denim or a belt for a fresh and elevated fusion look.
  2. A Chanderi lehenga skirt can be styled interestingly for a chic, ethnic look. Add a touch of glamour and modernity to the outfit by pairing it with a brocade jacket and statement earrings.
  3. When opting for a timeless Chanderi sari, keep the styling minimal. Opt for either a statement pair of earrings or neckpiece and let the weave do the talking.
Photo: Saksh Life
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