Haute-Couture with Meghalaya’s Ramie Grass

How traditional materials are being relooked at though high fashion

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Ramie Textiles: Daniel Syiem (2018-02-22) by Daniel 'Nongjop' SyiemDastkari Haat Samiti

Collaboration between French Embassy and Meghalaya

High fashion was a very far-fetched idea for the simple farmers in the West and East Garo Hills of Meghalaya. It was the magical link between the French Cultural Institute, the French Embassy in India, and the state government of Meghalaya with enthusiastic and dedicated people involved who were determined to make the farm to fibre to fashion idea a success. Under the exceptional initiative and supervision of the Government of Meghalaya, this old plant but new fibre called Ramie, cultivated as a result of the benefits of high rainfalls of that region, was introduced to the textile industry for the very first time.

Ramie Textiles: Textile from Ramie fiber (2019-06-20)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Ramie is particularly suited to be converted into textile as it is a naturally sterile fibre and a sister fibre of linen and flax. It can be harvested four times a year, making it a new fibre for designers to experiment with.

Calling in fashion design duo Hemant Sagar and Didier Lecoanet of the Lecoanet Hemant enterprise, their task was to find designers who would give their own interpretations of Ramie grass-turned-fabric with creativity and panache.

Ramie Textiles: Inauguration of the Ramie exhibition (2018-02-22)Dastkari Haat Samiti

BK Sohliya of the Meghalaya state government heading the Ramie development project speaks at the inaugural of the fashion display at the French Embassy in New Delhi.

Beside him is designer Hemant Sagar of Lecoanet Hemant who coordinated the fashion designer’s project and final presentation.

Ramie Textiles: Bodice (2018-02-22) by Ruchika SachdevaDastkari Haat Samiti

This outfit is made with natural fibre from Ramie grass, and created by Ruchika Sachdeva. It encapsulates the philosophy of Bodice, her label: of comfortable yet structured pieces.

The Ramie fabric is manipulated following the brand's design language to create structural pleats that interact with the wearer in movement.

Ramie Textile: Digital drawing of the outfit by Ruchika SachdevaDastkari Haat Samiti

A digital rendering of an outfit made by Ruchika Sachdeva of Bodice, using Ramie textile.

Ramie Textiles: Sketch of the outfit created by Bodice designer Ruchika Sachdeva by Ruchika SachdevaDastkari Haat Samiti

The transition from line to fold and back again into line is a representation of the chaos and order of India, and a meditation on the interconnections of all living phenomena.

This piece encapsulates the brand's philosophy of comfortable yet structured pieces. The designs experiment with structure, geometry, and architectural lines without steering from our foundation which is essentially and traditionally Indian.

Ramie Textiles: Bodice (2018-02-22) by Ruchika SachdevaDastkari Haat Samiti

Inspiration for the piece is drawn from twentieth-century artist Nasreen Mohamedi’s rhythmic use of lines to express the principles of order that underline the natural world around us.

This piece is both an ode to and a symbolic representation of our intimate connection to nature and expresses fashion’s capacity to create art.

Ramie Textiles: Daniel Syiem (2018-02-22) by Daniel 'Nongjop' SyiemDastkari Haat Samiti

Daniel 'Nongjop' Syiem’s garment draws inspiration from the tribal princess of Meghalaya.

The youngest daughter who is bound to tradition while trying to maneuver herself into the modern world, tries to balance the life of a tribal royal amidst the evolving changing modern world, hence its title “Urban Princess”.

The garment uses tribal and cultural features embedded within a modern outlook.

Ramie Textiles: Processed yarn on the frame loom (2019-06-20)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Fashioning Grass into Couture Fashion

To ensure a bright future the first trial weaves which were distributed to the designers, was first developed on a power loom which ensured an industrial procedure rather than taking the traditional route of hand-weaving, which is not strong enough to withstand the demands of modern daily life. The launch in November 2018 under the Bonjour India program was a great success with the upper echelons of diplomatic society and people from the cultural world in attendance.

Ramie Textiles: Harvesting the Ramie crop (2019-06-21) by Gami Ch. MarakDastkari Haat Samiti

That a small, fairly remote state in north-east India could create a fabric that was beneficial socially, economically, ecologically and be fashionable was a unique achievement which is now being taken further.

Dresses, coats, stoles, upholstery, jewelry, bags, and unbelievably, even a perfume coming out of lowly hill grass that had been used to make fishing nets was true technological progress and an example of effective collaboration between professionals at many levels of society.

Ramie Textiles: 'cache poussière' (2018-02-22) by PeachooDastkari Haat Samiti

Meghalaya Ramie on the left is by Lecoanet Hemant. At the centre, the creation is a 'cache poussière' which is a cross between a trench coat and a dress.

This garment is made entirely out of Ramie and the Japanese Crane embellishment symbolizes the poignant message of travelling from one place to another.

It is a multicultural statement encompassing a deeply personal interpretation.

Ramie Textiles: Lecoanet Hemant creation (2018-02-22) by Hemant Sagar & Didier Lecoanet HemantDastkari Haat Samiti

Hemant Sagar and Didier Lecoanet Hemant present their personal vision of tribal Meghalaya's journey towards embracing its newest material, Ramie.

An ensemble comprising an oversized protective cape of mineral and animal inspired ruffled ecru/black and white cotton inlays it is worn over a high waisted black on black skirt with 'efilloché' (strips) surface embellishments and accessorized with a tribal necklace assembled from raw Ramie fibre and abstract shaped pieces of coral and amber.

Ramie Textiles: Akihi (2018-02-22) by Srishti AroraDastkari Haat Samiti

Ramie acts as the canvas on which Srishti Arora designs a medley of textures using metal wires and threads twined together with intricate stitches, which is then mounted on a plated brass frame, transforming a piece of fabric into jewelry.

The development is meticulous and requires intense precision to execute.

Ramie Textiles: La Voliere (2018-02-22) by Adil Iqbal AhmadDastkari Haat Samiti

LA VOLIERE

The Chair with a Flair designed as part of The Palace Collection by Adil Iqbal Ahmad.

The chair is purely handcrafted with wafting peacock feathers complete the show of drama and romance.

Ramie Textiles: Collection of Ramie Textiles (2018-02-22) by Atsu SekhoseDastkari Haat Samiti

Among the tableau of fashions and accessories created out of Ramie fibre by designers, Atsu Sekhose creates a graphic modern pantsuit with the Meghalaya Ramie fabric.

Sekhose has selected a contrasting cream and black combination to highlight the natural texture of the cloth. The colour is inspired by the classic 1940's 'New Look' silhouette.

Ramie Textiles: Ramie grass perfume (2018-02-22) by Mane India Pvt. Ltd., MumbaiDastkari Haat Samiti

Ramie grass had the ingredients that made it convertible into perfume. A private enterprise created two scents – Dawn and Dusk as an interesting experiment with the humble Ramie grass.

Ramie Textiles: Water hyacinth fiber (2019-06-22) by Mimosah R MarakDastkari Haat Samiti

Credits: Story

Text: Jaya Jaitly, Jui Tawade
Photography: Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Artisans: various farmers working on crop to fiber
Fabric Plus for textiles
Ground Facilitation: Bryan Marak, Jui Tawade
Documentary Video: Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Curation: Ruchira Verma

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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