The 25th edition of the Dastkari Haat Samiti has got a presidential touch, literally. Eugenie Drake, a leading South African handicrafts designer, whose list of buyers include Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Elton John and Oprah Winfrey, is exhibiting her jewellery designs here.
“India is a sensory overload. In Africa, we don’t have so many textiles as one finds in India. The tonalities of colours are wider and the textures are so different,” says Drake.
It’s not just the weaves, even the Indian craftsmen impresses her. “The first thing one notices in India is the dedication of the crafts artists. They work incredibly hard and I would imagine that they do not work for a huge amount of money. There is a certain pride in them in their traditions,” says Drake, whose collection includes bead necklaces, Zulu love girdles, ethnic love letter pendants, leg-ring bangles, embroidered fabrics and ethnic silverware.
“The best thing about our creations is that they are contemporary yet traditional. So even as youngsters love our designs, their grandmothers also feel proud to see their culture reflect in their kids,” says the designer, whose 10-year-old niche crafts boutique, Piece, in Johannesburg, combines traditional crafts of South Africa with contemporary western motifs to create wearable accessories.
However, Drake’s inspirations are not just confined to South Africa alone — she often crosses the border to Swaziland, Namibia and Botswana to collect old designs. “I make woven grass-fabric and bead bangles inspired by the traditional leg-rings (chunky anklets) which no one wears now. I have designed necklaces by improvising on the traditional Zulu betrothal necklace and coloured love letter pendants,” says the designer.
What: Dastkaari Haat Samiti
When: January 1-11
Where: Dilli Haat, INA
Nearest Metro Station: INA on the yellow line