The social set adores her but there's nothing stuck-up about Banaras-bred Chhaya Mehrotra's vision. Her collections stirred a poignant response this season—the catwalk debut at Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week earned critical appreciation and we all identified with her deep personal motivation to showcase at a cancer fundraiser. Today we're awaiting her couture line — the young designer has convinced millions that we can aspire to a world of classic romance.
Hailing from one of the oldest textile printing families Chhaya participated in conversations on fabric and design from a young age. "I loved spending time in Dad's printing factory observing how he checked each sari in a glance and learning his ideologies on color and detailing" she reminisces. "Banaras' textile landscape embraces carpet making.. handloom and powerloom weaving.. block screen and digital prints.. handwork and computer embroidery. It's brimming with traditional and modern techniques and all of this combined inadvertently formed a lasting impression.”
"Modern" and "enduring" are apt descriptors for her design goals. "I'm interested in style and timelessness" she says. Formal education in NIFT gave Chhaya impetus to design trousseau and ethnic menswear and then she launched a pret label. Since then her designs have balanced her venerable heritage with a hip modern outlook. "I've worked with block prints and hand embroideries on traditional textiles but I value the importance of technology on the design process. I love Tussar and Banarsi weaves as much as I love French lace" she explains and adds with a smile. "It's a common saying that 'you can take a Banarsi out of Banaras but you can never take Banaras out of a Banarsi'. This manifests in my collections. I wanted my identity to shine through so we printed fine Cashmere with heritage blocks from Banaras! And this brings me to a concern — why aren't we mining our rich heritage? Strategic positioning of our craft such as a real zari Banarsi sari could transform it into an object of desire for brides-to-be! Think about it."
— JASMEEN DUGAL
Chhaya Mehrortra's label is available at her boutique and in several fashion houses across India and the Middle East. It also travels through unique trunk shows and exhibits the world over.