“Drawing inspiration from my favourite poem by Rabindranath Tagore, I took a trip to the town of Kalna,” recalls designer Saroj Jalan. “As I walked through the lanes dotted with ancient architecture, I reached the complex that houses the famous terracotta temples. Somehow, I could not tear my eyes away from the Ekratna (single spire) Ramchandra Temple that stood in front of me. It was not just the art and the sculptural splendour, but the poetry it inspired within me. I was inspired to delve deeper, and these mesmerising lanes streaked with terracotta threaded their way through my imagination, forming the focal point of my collection,” she says.
Bishnupur is another terracotta temple town that fascinates Jalan, and her impressions from here too find rich expression in her creations. It is the carvings from these and the Kalna temples that form the intricate figurine motifs in her ensembles, giving them an all-new shape and structure. So, what are the unique techniques that Saroj Jalan has brought into her silhouettes? “The surface developments in textures and techniques are rooted in Bishnupur, which are then combined with kalamkari prints, shibori knotting technique and macrame. I have made generous use of hand painting with hand embroidery to lend both definition and depth,” she explains.
Jalan has also brought in clever 3D zardozi work to highlight the motifs, outlining them with dori and filling in with vivid applique swatches. In the Kalamkari-inspired moonga silk ensembles, the pattern has first been drawn with a pen and then printed over. “I prefer to shape bold, sexy silhouettes using modern bustier cuts as well as highlights on the narrow waist,” says Jalan.
Besides lehengas and bustiers in shell pinks, soft beiges, bright purples, rich reds and mocha browns, the collection also has intricately detailed jeggings and jackets as well as embroidered footwear.
Shilpi Madan for Sunday Standard