Aneeth Arora with her label Péro, has emerged as one of India’s most respected young fashion designers. Her debut collection was in 2009, and I first visited her Delhi based studio in December 2010 where I spent a lovely morning admiring the use of hand-woven fabrics and hand crafted details in her outfits. Alongside her garments, she showed me a sample booklet she had created for her press kit which contained swatches of the different fabrics used in her recent collection. She talked about how she wanted to travel and document the fabrics of India, and preferred to call herself a textile and dress maker rather than a fashion designer. I was reminded of the 19th century project initiated by John Forbes Watson and his eighteen volume publication, The Textile Manufactures of India, in which he collects samples from across India noting their region, purpose, weight and dimensions. Now an invaluable guide to textile history, one volume will be displayed in the exhibition and a digital version is available to view here. Aneeth’s booklet, with its red and white theme included samples of ikat and natural dyed khadi from Andhra Pradesh, bhandhani from Kutch as well as woven checks and stripes from Chanderi.
Back in London, I kept in touch with Aneeth and she periodically sent me updates of her work. I received packages with press packs and goodie bags which were a delight to open. I would find handmade bags filled with handmade cards and a variety of quirky things used to showcase her latest fabric samples.
For me, these delightful little things reflect the thoughtfulness and attention to detail that Aneeth puts into her garments. It is this quality which has led to her garments being acquired for the museum. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see her work on display and appreciate the high standard of craftsmanship in everything from the fabric to the embroidery, the seams, buttons and tassels.
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to show the quirky promotional toys in the exhibition which is my reason for focusing on them in this blog. Though whimsical in nature, they highlight the importance that Aneeth places on hand crafting and fine detailing at every level of her work. This attention to detail comes at a price, and in this recent article Aneeth talks about what goes into the making of each garment, the way in which the degree of research and technical experimentation is often underestimated, and the perception of handmade luxury in contemporary fashion.