Waves of change- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

KOCHI: Initially adorned by royalty, ‘kasavu’ (zari) sarees in Kerala later found their way into Onam and wedding festivities. For decades, weavers of Chendamangalam wove traditional ‘kasavu’ sarees and were apprehensive about creating anything out of the box.However, with Save The Loom coming to their aid, the weavers are optimistic about giving a contemporary spin to the traditional saree, just in time for Onam. ‘Olam’, which translates into new wave, is an 11-piece collection which rediscovers Kerala’s textiles with a different perspective.

Not only does the new collection exhibit the skill of the Chendamangalam weavers, but also the finesse of the tailoring unit of the Gandhi Smarak Grama Seva Kendram, Khadi training centre at Nanthiattukunnam — who hand hemmed the edges of the saree — and the Dhobi Khana at Veli Street. The laundry community continues to depend on the traditional charcoal boxes which help achieve the desired level of de-starching.

“’Olam’ signifies a new future and takes the Kerala saree beyond the conventional style it has been reduced to. The saree collection comprises an array of coloured stripes which vary across the garment. Hints of kasavu are introduced minimally to retain the feel of Kerala sarees while providing it elegance. Two sarees have a dual-sided pallu as a variation and are, therefore, reversible. Typically, kasavu sarees are worn on festive occasions.

‘Olam’ with its summery palette and subtle hints of kasavu can be incorporated into daily wear,” said Ramesh Menon, founder, Save The Loom.  The ethereal cotton sarees contain staple colours of the cluster; kora white, gold and silver, while also comprising raspberry red, fern green, sapphire blue, old rose, black and silver. Strikingly, parts of the weaving loom such as the reeds, shafts, pedals and the shadows of the window grills and stairs have lent a unique aspect to the stripes along with its negative and positive spaces.

For Bindhu M S who has been weaving for the past 29 years, working on a new collection was beyond thrilling. “ It was sheer joy to learn and weave the new range of sarees. I was sceptical initially, but the reaction to weaving the first-ever saree in the collection gave me immense happiness,” she said. Indira D, a weaver for 38 years, was particularly glad she was able to be part of a collection which stretches beyond tradition. One of the fastest weavers, she was rather excited to weave a new and challenging design.

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