Lucknow-based self-taught designer Anjul Bhandari has been known for her chikankari designs since she launched her label in 2010. Lucknow is of course the city that is home to Chikankari, a craft that dates back centuries and was famously the one as Mughal Empresses, of which Nur Jahan was the patroness. One of India’s most beautiful and delicate forms of embroidery, what you may not have realized is that adding the effervescence to many chikankari pieces, even those worn by Nur Jahan, is another complementary craft – Kaamdani.
Also known as mukaish or badla, Kaamdani is the metallic embroidery often used to add sparkle to empty spaces in ornate chikan textiles. Tikki (the little sequin-like stitch) is probably the most popular Kaamdani stitch, although there are others. Chikankari and kaamdani are made for each other, a marriage of elegance and brilliance. For some reason, kaamdani hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves from the Indian fashion fraternity and now Bhandari hopes to fix that. “Gulha-e-Rang” is a couture capsule collection that makes the most of these two forms of craftsmanship. Each piece is unique and is launched as part of Ensemble’s 35th anniversary range; the brand has been sold there for about six years. Tina Tahiliani-Parikh, Executive Director of the Ensemble, says Tina Tahiliani-Parikh, “What is important about kaamdani is that it must be done well, otherwise it hurts and hurts the skin. It’s a dying art form that fashion should celebrate more.” For the launch of this collection, Bhandari ensured that Kaamdani artisans from Lucknow were on hand for a live demonstration at the store. Here, Anjul Bhandari decodes this ancient art form to vogue.