Embroidered Stories Inspired by Paris-Made in India
Laite works, a french boutique brand ( pronounced as “light-works”) uses only natural fabrics that are soft and light in nature and are made by hand. The founder, Saurabh, works essentially with craftsmen from India and incorporates artisanal fabrication in terms of colors and motifs according to the current trends. The inspiration is drawn from Paris; it’s culture, fashion, architecture, cafés and day-to-day life and is presented as a collection of stories.
We further learn the process of making and storytelling with Saurabh.
Start of a design journey
I graduated from NIFT, New Delhi in 2007. I was awarded with Best Design Collection and Best Student for the Batch of 2003-2007.The love for Fashion inculcated in me since childhood. NIFT opened my doors to International Fashion and I became very keen to pursue a Masters Course in Europe. My curiosity and hard work got me Masters in Fashion Design from the prestigious school of Paris IFM ( Institut Français de la Mode). At IFM, we had a course director named Francine Pairon. She knew how to push her students out of their comfort zone in order to find one’s true personality and to create from that personal space and universe. She indirectly provided us tools to remove our creative blocks. I still can’t thank her enough for what I have learnt from her teachings.
Another major influence in my career was working as an embroidery designer at Rue du Mail. I had the privilege to work with artistic director Marc Ascoli and creative director Martine Sitbon. At Rue du Mail, I understood the meaning of “La chic Parisienne”. The two directors were extremely particular about the colours, cuts, shapes, graphisms and their vision or visual story when it came to “La garde-robe d’une Parisienne” (The wardrobe of a Parisian girl). It made me understand a lot about the Parisian fashion. The effects of it one finds in my work till date. Paris as a city also has a big influence on my work. I love the little streets, cafés, florists, vegetable markets of Paris. They are so full of colours, textures and life that they attract my eyes each time I pass by. There are moments when I freeze admiring the beauty of these beautiful little stores and cafés.
Craft and Fast fashion
Craft is present both in slow and fast fashion. A sewing machine used widely in fast fashion industry is useless unless a tailor knows how to stitch with it. It is a craft to stitch a perfect collar, a perfect sleeve. It needs skills of a tailor.
Craft has always been there and is here to stay. Slow fashion is a new concept. It is a trend started almost over a decade ago and is bi product of a self-conscious thinking. A thinking where one negates/limits as much as possible, industrially produced products and its consumption. It has picked up very well in the food industry where people appreciate to eat locally produced/organic/home-made/fresh food.
However, there is still a long way to make it a booming industry in fashion.
'A piece of textile is both a work of art and design'
A piece of textile touches many realms than just art and design. To begin with it narrates its origin for example Linen, it is as old as Egyptian civilization
It talks about its provenance, for e.g. Pashmina, everyone in the world knows that Pashmina comes from Kashmir, India.
Textile is a work of art because it serves as a canvas on which an artist/creative person can express its vision in terms of colours, shapes, forms, textures etc.Textile has intrinsic values of design and one does not have to think in how many ways it can be used. It is versatile. Hung from the wall it becomes a painting, hung from the window it becomes a curtain, laid on a table it becomes a table cover, wrapped around a body it becomes a stole.
Textile is like food. It is a study material to understand different cultures from around the world. Like food, every country has its specific textiles and textile making techniques.
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The Craft Project wishes to document tangible anthropology i.e material culture of a place and comment on its relevance in the contemporary space. We also wish to bring together a community of cultural travelers and craft entrepreneurs and create a collective of common motivation. The Craft Project celebrates Diversity in culture through objects, folk arts, crafts, and design. Through this project, we will be conducting community-sourced primary research and publishing about crafts from around the work and will involve brands, NGOs, collectives, makers, designers, curators, thought leaders, other publications etc.
Balance of modern and traditional
What you call Craft, I call it “Savoir-Faire”. Savoir-Faire can be modern or traditional but it needs to be mastered in order to realise its full potential. Once it is mastered, then with some artistic/creative vision it can be moulded into a contemporary or a traditional product/service serving commercial purposes.France has several houses known for their “Savoir-faire”. For e.g “Legeron” that makes Flowers and Feathers for embroidery. It’s a true Savoir-Faire. Even Chanel gets their flowers made from them. Working as an embroidery designer, I realised that India has a real “Savoir-Faire” in embroideries. I don’t know any Couture House of Paris that does not work with India for embroideries. The House of Lesage (a legend in the world of embroidery) also has aN embroidery setup in India. It was but natural for me to pick up this Savoir-Faire from India and adapt it to French aesthetics with my experience and knowledge in working with Parisian design studios. As a result, LAÏTEworks was founded. My brand is based on the “Savoire-faire” of Aari and Zardozi embroideries from India and design aesthetics from Paris.
Cultural background and Aesthetics
Being Indian means the ability to use colours. India is known for its use of colours. It’s a cliché but I think I will have to accept it because people love my colour sensibility. That’s one of the strongest ways my cultural background influenced my design aesthetics. I love working with colours. It is the first thing that attracts my eye.
Cities like Paris, New York, London or Tokyo love diversity. They love acquiring what is not available in their own country. They love to discover other cultures as it enriches, nourishes, complements their own culture.
Therefore, these cities host many fairs, exhibitions, special events which is open to any creative person of any nationality who is “à l’hauteur” (up to the mark). There are agents /associations/individuals that support Indie brands (if they believe in their work) and help them develop their marketing and commercial prospects.
Indian textiles globally
Working in the Textiles Industry for over a decade and constantly meeting with artists, designers or buyers helped me confirm that India is known for its textiles and textile making techniques.
Textiles like Mulmul, Pashmina and Silks from India startle the occidental eyes.
Whereas Textiles making techniques are concerned, we are known for embroideries, textile printing (block printing and screen printing) and weaving.
Our strength lies in tedious hand-work that all the above-mentioned techniques require.Our challenges lie in developing noble fabrics like heavy wool, woollen knits, leathers and heavy silks like duchesse de Satin, which are preferred fabrics of luxury brands and couture houses. We lack to produce these noble fabrics.
I usually start my design process by clicking pictures. I love to capture pictures of flowers, vegetable markets, vintage flea markets, coffee shops and I try to find elements that attract my eyes in these photos. It can be a flower, a person, an object just anything my heart crushes on.
I draw these elements in a childlike way adding simple lines, dots and textures.
I make a composition of these drawings to build a story. All my embroideries have a story and a name like Deer Garden, Tropical Jungle, Cactus Garden, La Fête etc.
Thereafter, I do colour associations to the drawings/motifs I have made. This is a crucial process as I am very sensitive and choosy about colours. It takes me hours and hours to do colour associations that works for my aesthetics. It is also the USP of my design process and products.
Further to this the process becomes very technical. The motif placements are planned out in products. Each colour of the motif is attributed to an embroidery thread number and developed in Aari or Zari or both the embroideries. Lots of editing is done in embroidery techniques or colour selection to get a well-balanced composition.
The final result comes out in delicately embroidered scarves, pouches and other accessories, full of colours.