Kochi: Having spent over forty years in the industry designing sarees for her Kerala-based brand Seematti, designer Beena Kannan launched India's first luxury silk-inspired haute couture's label.
With this move, Kannan aims to change the notion that Kanjeevaram silk is only for sarees. Her new namesake brand includes Indian, Indo-western and western outfits made either of silk or with a touch of it.
The designer held a fashion show in Bolgatty Grand Hyatt in Kochi, Kerala, to launch her new label 'Beena Kannan'. Top models sashayed on the ramp, wearing the collection that comprises sarees, lehengas, crop and long jackets, kaftans, dresses, etc. The models walked the ramp along with the fusion song.
Kannan has used different weaving techniques from across the country to do the label's first lineup, based on three mood boards to cater the likings of Gen Z and millennials, among others.
Kannan has combined the Byzantine era with Indian Geometric art; the Art Deco period with Jamiwar and Ottoman art with Mughal styles. She has adopted famous paintings of Vincent van Gogh and S.H. Raza on to her sarees.
However, it is very difficult to create such art on weaving, she says. "Even machines cannot take the 40,000 hooks and 60,000 hooks that we handle."
Additionally, getting modern designs weaved by artisans who otherwise work on traditional weaves and techniques is also not very easy, she says.
"The artisans were never ready to do innovative things, because it's a very time consuming, money consuming and is a hard process. It's very difficult for them to get into innovation, get into new designs because Kanjeevaram has certain limitations. It's considered very religious and very much attached to the Hindu wedding. So they thought believe the scope of this weaving is very limited," she tells IANSlife.
"When I talked to them, they asked me who's going to buy it. If it's a simple saree, it can be made in five days, and my designs sometimes take three months to be ready. But we pay them accordingly. Some of our saris even cost more than our selling price. But we do it because it needs to be done. That's how we think, that's where we are positioning ourselves," asserts Kannan, who made into Guinness Book of Records and Limca Book of Records in 2007 for making the longest-ever silk saree.
Unlike Seematti, which is a 120-year-old retail brand, every bit of the outfits in the new label is custom-made, she clarifies. "There are clothes which will be fitting in all occasions in your life."
Label Beena Kannan will see garments made with various silk weaving techniques and technologies in India which will be inspired by her travel across the globe.
She says: "The entire silk industry was revolving around modular designs, say X+Y+Z or Y+X+Z. But we are reinventing the procedure of the weaving. Today, customers need light weighted outfits, a particular zari etc. So we do a lot of experiments. I have done weaving in organza, linen and raw silk to make sarees. I have combined weaving in silk, printing in silk and embroidery in silk for occasion wear and accessories also."
"Everything we want is not available in the market and we are adjusting and celebrating with what is out there But I don't want the Kanjeevaram deteriorate. Already the weaver's community is deteriorating, and the enthusiasm which the seniors have, maybe the juniors won't have, maybe they are looking out for collared jobs. But there are certain people who can be with me. So I train them to work for us."
Kannan, will launch the brand with a 17,500 sqft store in Kerala, and plans to expand it across the world in the next three years. This year, they plan to open five stores in Delhi, Bombay, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, plus two flagships stores. There are plans to hold trunk shows across cities, with altered designs that suit the taste of each place.
The brand is open for collaborations and looking to give franchisees across the country and internationally.