[googlee99e771b41e8ce84.html]
  Loading... Please wait...

ROMANCE WAS BORN

project-page-header-images.jpg

Photo credit ©varanasiweavers.org

 

PLIGHT OF THE VARANASI WEAVERS

The crisis in the handloom sector of Varanasi has forced weavers and artisans to move to the cities in search of an alternative income. Others living in the throes of abject poverty are selling vegetables or earning their livelihood as rickshaw-pullers.

 Varanasi is famous for the quality of silk products crafted by mainly Muslim weavers in the city's backstreets, where saris and scarfs routinely take 15-20 days to make.

 Up until a decade ago, around 100,000 handlooms would crank away each day but the number has more than halved since then. Highly skilled weavers and their families are living in abject poverty, with many suffering from disease and malnutrition.

 The history of Banarasi silk can be traced back to the Lord Buddha whose body was draped in it.

 "It's an art, it's a culture, it's a heritage product but it's a dying art."

 With cheap imported silk from China, the contemporary western influence and the demand for the Banaris Sari has lessened significantly in the past decade; this along with the introduction of the powerloom has seen the demise of these skilled artisans.

  

ROMANCE WAS BORN 

Romance Was Born, the label of Sydney-based fashion designers Anna Plunkett & Luke Sales, collaborated with the Varanasi silk weavers to help promote the highly skilled & dying art of silk brocade weaving in the context of modern fashion. 

anna-plunkett-luke-sales.jpg

 

Assisting the Varanasi silk weavers has been one of Artisans of Fashion’s aims because the regions silk industry is in turmoil, affecting some 500,000 people. 60 percent of handlooms currently sit idle and many of the weavers live in abject poverty. Weavers and their children are suffering from starvation and malnutrition. 

Plunkett & Sales worked in collaboration with the weavers on a range of silk brocades for their SS13 collection which was showcased on the runway in Delhi. Following their experience in India, their SS14 Collection Tripsy Gypsy has debuted with an Indian theme and intricate embroideries created by artisans.

 

imgp93953.jpg

 

DESIGNER MEETS ARTISAN

Artisans of Fashion facilitated a collaboration between Romance Was Born’s Anna Plunkett & Luke Sales with a traditional brocade weaver from a rural village outside Sarnath in Varanasi. The people living in this village live a subsistence lifestyle with farming supplementing their income from the weaving. Looms fill most of the single room, mud brick houses, with families sleeping under and around the remaining space in the room.

village1.jpg

village2.jpg

village3.jpg

 

“THE DESIGNERS LEARN FROM THE ARTISANS WHAT THE POSSIBILITIES ARE 

AND THE ARTISANS LEARN ABOUT CONTEMPORARY DESIGN AESTHETICS AND WHAT’S

MARKETABLE, AND THAT’S A REALLY BEAUTIFUL EXCHANGE OF IDEAS AND SKILLS.” 

 

Following our research and enquiry as to the capacity of the weavers to work with our designers, we came across Shahid Ansari who introduced us to the master weaver – a 4th generation weaver, one of the few remaining with the skills to weave a complex jacquard design in the width and colours designed by Luke & Anna. The design process required a lot of discussion to ensure a good understanding of what could be achieved in terms of fabric width, number of colours and interact of pattern. Despite the fact that the weaver has created some truly elaborate traditional designs, the new colour palette and motifs provided a challenge.

The setting up of the loom from the transferring of the design to graphing paper through to creating the punch cards and then warping the loom takes in excess of 1 month. This is one of the key challenges for designers working in the world of fast fashion.

rwb-graph-paper.jpg

The preparation of the yarn, from spinning through to getting the natural silk dyed in the colours is all done by hand, often the women work tirelessly behind the scenes preparing the thread for the looms. Luke & Anna specified the maximum number of colours possible for the jacquard loom. 

rwb-dyeing.png

 The process is labourious and takes more than 1 month to set up the complex jacquard loom.

romance-was-born-photos-1.png

rwb-brocade.jpg

 

AUSTRALIAN FASHION AT WILL’S LIFESTYLE FASHION WEEK

Romance Was Born showcased their stunning collection at The Australian cultural festival Oz Fest at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week.

The main feature of the night was a runway show showcasing the work of cutting edge Australian duo Romance Was Born, presented in collaboration with  Artisans of Fashion. Some of the pieces included the famous brocade work done by Varanasi Silk Weavers, connecting local craftspeople to the world of international fashion.

 

AOF-RomanceWasBorn.png

 

 

rwb-project-sponsors.png

 

 

A Limited Edition ‘Sanskrit’ print scarf will be produced by hand in Varanasi to celebrate the collaboration and support AOF’s ongoing work. Romance Was Born are looking to work on another project at a grassroots level as part of a their 10th anniversary celebrations. They are looking to collaborate with another Iconic Australian designer on this project.

Instagram Feed

Recent Updates

Sign up to our newsletter