Vineet Bahl takes inspiration from Awadh nawabi culture at WLFW
Awadh had been the seat of nawabi grandeur in erstwhile Hindustan for over a century. Of particular interest in this culture was the 'zenana', a sanctified neighborhood of women in purdah. This was where the nawab's begums lived often conducting affairs of the state under the nawab's patronage. Since men were not allowed inside these reserved sanctums, the zanana gradually became a storehouse for all sorts of wealth — both material and that pertaining to Awadhi culture, its tehzeeb.
The story begins here. The protagonist for Vineet's AW13 collection is Wazir-un-Nisa, a courtesan during the life and times of Wajid All Shah.
With Wajid Ali Shah having been exiled to Calcutta, the threat of British invading Awadh became imminent. Wazir-un took the onus of protecting the fabled treasure of Awadh in the most ingenious manner: in the middle of the night, she led a battery of women from the zenana with the court jewels hidden in their jamas and shalwars. The show tells us the story of these brave women, clad in their fineries, walking out of the zenana; with their hearts filled with anxiety and yet ever so graceful.
The exodus was a near success but for one tragedy — Wazir-un could not escape the zenana herself, and thus never able to meet her lover Salim who she planned to elope with that night...
Legend has it that if you go to the loada imambara' and put your ears to the wall, you can still hear Salim asking, "Voh Mere Jane Ke Baad Aayi toh nahin thi, voh ayithi kya?”.
'Chikankari' is native to Awadh, and Vineet's AW-13 collection is inaugurated with outfits in this traditional form of embroidery set on all ivory palettes. The profundity of 'Chikan' is highlighted by the use of 'sheesha' adorning the dupattas of the opening outfits.
The succeeding group has outfits in black and ivory with much more detailed 'sheesha work and 'gota' edging, both of which add subtle glamour to the garments. Hand block printing is extensively used here, as also in the subsequent group with traditional 'zardozi' motifs done on vivd colors.
This is followed by outfits in tassar with detailed 'naqsh' work in silver and gold creating a 'dhoop-chaanw' effect (interplay of light and shadows). The closing garments in the collection are fabricated in velvet in jewel colors embellished with pin-point Swarovskis.