By Aarian Parikh | Opening Doorz Editorial | March 28, 2018
Anita Kanwal’s label is identical with her innate sense of style and her deep roots in Indian culture and heritage. Having started off as an actor in film and television, she has since branched out with her own label. Her use of fabrics and motifs speak volumes about her personal style statement—classic and for the woman who is confident and proud of her heritage!
With her intimate knowledge of the Saree, the ‘Anita Kanwal’ label has something for everyone. As an example of someone with true determination and vision, the actor who at one time was doing 13 shows on television apart from films, has proved that hard work goes a long way and “If you do something, do it wholesomely”. A mother, grandmother, an actor, a designer and more importantly a doer, Anita is here, there and everywhere.
To make her work appealing to the younger generation, Anita has designed a line of dhoti sarees which, with their ease to wear and carry off, make it a game changer. Her brand motto and belief, however, is to make the Saree the chosen attire for every girl across the Globe: to highlight the symbolic and literal beauty the saree brings out and how its cloth is like an arrangement of notes, each bit offering a different flavor.
‘Kaushalya’ her Collection released a few years ago is still in demand even today. That collection was based on musical instruments painted, printed or embroidered on tussar, chanderi, etc.
‘Valley of Flowers’, her spring summer collection was launched last week at Aza. “I have offset them with checks and stripes, different from what you see around,” reveals Anita.
Opening Doorz met up with the lady whose sarees are the talk of the town!
How many years has it been since you started your label?
It’s been four years since I started officially. With my work commitment, I couldn’t really focus on this earlier. But now that I have streamlined my work and business, I am able to focus more on my designs. I had been thinking about my label for a long time, though.
Is fashion an integral part of the television industry as it is to the film industry in this country?
When satellite TV started, we saw a deviation from tradition Indian wear as seen in the Doordarshan days of TV, to western styling. Now, the television industry has gone back to Indian wear.
How would you define a saree?
Saree to me is the epitome of feminism which brings out the best in a woman.
How do clients buy your products; do you have an online platform or a store or do they contact you directly for them?
My products are sold through Aza fashion online, Carma Online, Vivaluxe Fashions and many more online portals. I also participate in exhibitions and operate on appointments from my studio. Yes, a lot of my clientele is now personalized. They want exclusive designs and prints, something which the other does not have.
Which means, a saree a client buys from you, based on her sensibilities, will not be replicated ever again by you, even if there is someone else who has seen it and wants it?
I try my best to ensure that it is that way. It also depends entirely on the availability of the fabric. Generally I do not repeat my designs. I like to create, exclusive, elusive designs. That is my USP!
Do you believe a saree is a fashion statement anyone can carry off, irrespective of body type?
I believe that the saree is the only garment which anyone can carry off with elan irrespective of body type.
Is there a particular styling concept you particularly enjoy when designing your sarees, or do you take each fresh idea from concept to fabric?
I really enjoy working with handwoven and handcrafted sarees but I do cater to all kinds of choices. I’m open to ideas and not averse to suggestions.
Is there any conscious effort on your part to popularize the saree in the west?
The saree has already made its way across the globe in the form of drape gowns which seem to be the western world’s opinion of a saree. On my part, I have created sarees with a twist which are easy for the global customers to adapt.
What sets the ‘Anita Kanwal’ label apart from the others in the fashion scene?
My sarees are quirky yet chic and designed for the bold woman who dares to make the statement.
What are the collections you have come up with so far and how often do you release new ones?
The first collection I made had each saree named after a film song; the next one was called the ‘Floral Touch’ where floral fabrics were applied on to the fabric. After those came ‘Kaushalya’ which was based on musical instruments, I then did a collection called ‘Veere de Vyaah’ which was for every ceremony of a wedding for the family. My forthcoming spring summer collection launched last week at Aza is called ‘Valley of Flower’ and is based on floral fabric set off against stripes, checks, plains etc.
What kind of variations with sarees have you ventured into, have you tried different and unusual fabrics or designs?
I have made saree drape with dhotis, tulip pants, jeans, bahubali dhotis, lungi skirts and skirts. All these variations have been well received and it’s good to see that there are women willing to experiment rather than going with just the tried and tested.
What’s your client profile like? Is it just centered on celebrities?
I think I have something for everyone. From the star wife to the star, from the housewife to the girl-next-door, to the one wanting to try out the saree for the first time!
Any tips on how to drape and confidently carry off a saree?
My tip to everyone is that whatever you wear you must feel confident and sincerely believe that it is making you look the most beautiful woman in the world! I believe in wearing the saree as often as I can and making it attractive enough for more and more women to buy and be seen in a saree.
To the younger generations of women who find draping a saree tedious and not worth their time, what advice would you give them?
I would say that no garment can give a woman the sensuous appeal a saree can. Try it; you will not want to let go of it!
Finally, what is the one comment you have heard from your clients over the years?The one comment which I hear often from clients is that they have received a lot of compliments when they wear my sarees!
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