To celebrate India’s rich textile legacy and to honour those who have contributed to the promotion of handloom and craft, the Ministry of Textiles came up with a special event on Saturday, Artisan Speak, which happened to be the first fashion event to be held in the premises of the Red Fort. The event was hosted by the Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani and it brought together award-winning artisans from different parts of the country. Six designers from the fashion fraternity, who are known for their work in Indian handloom – Rahul Mishra, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Gaurang Shah, Anita Dongre, Anju Modi and Rohit Bal – also participated in the event.
A word of praise from the minister
The event began with an award ceremony where Smriti Irani gave away eight special recognition awards to those who have been working to promote Indian textiles. Among the awardees were Madhu Jain, Sunil Sethi, Kiran D. Malali, Ramesh Devangan, Vijaya Kumar, Suresh Kotak and Mani Chinnaswamy.
Calling the event a “historic” one, the minister said that the event was a great beginning in honouring and recognising those who have made contributions to the handloom and textile sector. “This event brought together weavers, artisans, textile conservationists and fashion designers to celebrate the glorious textiles legacy of our country. We have recognised the efforts of weavers and artisans on the one hand, and on the other hand, we have names like Madhu Jain, who has been working to promote Indian textiles. I must also mention Sunil Sethi, who has been awarded today,” said Irani.
First fashion event at the Red Fort
Be it officials from the ministry, members from the fashion fraternity or other guests, attending an event at the Red Fort premises was a first for many. The newly renovated, well-lit structures of Sawan Pavilion served as a perfect backdrop to the textile show and the award ceremony. Raghvendra Singh, Textiles Secretary, said that it wasn’t an easy task to convince the Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to hold the event at Red Fort. “This event wouldn’t have been possible without the support from the ASI and the Ministry of Culture. These buildings that you see around were once British barracks and around this time last year, they were in a dilapidated state. The ASI was engaged in extensive conservation work and the project was conceived to restore these buildings and convert them into galleries and museums, which will soon be inaugurated here. So, the Ministry of Culture wanted us to do this event without sound and light. We told them that it won’t be possible, so they asked us to do it in a sombre way. While planning the event, we kept in mind the sensitivity of the place,” said Singh. He further added that the event, which was to honour artisans and those who have made contributions to handloom sector, is an outreach programme by the Ministry of Textiles. “After this event in Delhi, we are going to Kolkata where we will hold this event in another iconic building there. Thereafter we will take it to South, Northeast and Western parts of our country. We are planning to link the weavers of our country with the verticals of big garment manufacturers, with the idea of enhancing their income,” he added.
Rajesh Pratap Singh
A good start to 2019 for designers
For six designers who participated in the textiles show, this was the best beginning of 2019. “This happens to be the first fashion event in Delhi and this is indeed an iconic show. This is a great beginning and we are hoping to have more such collaborative events in the future,” said designer Rahul Mishra, who presented his latest collection with chikankari embroidery. The designers presented the best of Indian embroidery and handloom in the selected garments that they showcased on the ramp. Designer Rajesh Pratap Singh’s collection stood out as the models walked the ramp wearing pollution masks matching their outfits. “We all know the state of air pollution in Delhi but I think we still need to keep reminding ourselves what we are facing today,” said Rajesh.
Smriti Irani interacts with artisans at the event
Divya Bhatt Mishra and Rahul Mishra
Smriti Irani and Madhu Jain
Sunil Sethi, President, FDCI being felicitated by Smriti Irani, Union Textiles Minister
Anita Dongre’s collection