The miniature loom Vaishali Shadangule gifted me, symbolic of her single-minded focus, occupies pride of place in my study. The revivalist designer's focus on breathing life into near-extinct weaves has organically increased their reach overseas and her hands-on approach to keep it alive is visible in past efforts to pick a cluster each season to live and work with them, resulting in working with nine hundred weavers and fourteen techniques of weaving. ''Since distances are long and there is no communication, I stay till they prepare samples. During this process, I understand the textile better which helps to bring out its uniqueness. Initially it was tough to sustain business in this way, but like the weavers, I am tied by the thread of passion,'' she had once told me.
For the phygital edition of Lotus Make-Up India Fashion Week, the designer shot at Villa Giuliani, Northern Italy, with her acquaintances, friends and family modelling for the fashion film, 'Rebirth.' Her determination to create a success story for weavers resulted in a artistic presentation where her expertise in crafting globally relevant wearable art from indigenous weaves was visible in each look. I loved the Chanderi silk jackets and dresses constructed with her signature cord work and engineered draping. And, found it remarkable how she created the modernity, and the immediateness of the crop tops, blouses, dresses and pants handcrafted with centuries-old Khunn weave and Murshidabad silk. The effect was quietly impressive.
Overall, the SS21 collection stays close to Shadangule’s vision, design aesthetic and a palette of white, scarlet, black and leafy green. As the fashion film drew to a close, I recalled a conversation with her, ''At some regions, young weavers appreciate revivalism and are making an effort to modernise the textile only to the extent it doesn't lose its traditional value. Now is the time where a genuine initiative from the government and the fashion fraternity can take it to the next level.''
— Jasmeen Dugal