Thanks to pop culture, brocade is on a revival path

  • Veenu Singh
  • Updated: Jan 17, 2016 13:28 IST
The royal look: Brocade was used for lehengas, sherwanis and ghararas in Bajirao Mastani.

Nothing in fashion says ‘this is in’ more clearly than the costumes of a movie. Often it’s the silhouettes of the actors’ clothes themselves that spark an off-screen style revolution. But sometimes, it’s a fabric and a look that catches the public’s fancy, and that’s just what’s happened to brocade, thanks to Bajirao Mastani.

To be fair, the period film is not the only thing responsible for the revival of brocade, a rich fabric composed of embossed woven-silk material shot through with metallic threads. For centuries, it was used to convey social status not just in India, but also in Byzantium, China and Italy. Then, like all fashions, it vanished from sight, limited only to an occasional patch or a border in a dupatta or a dress and – in the last few decades – upholstery!

Now the fabric has returned to the limelight, used in everything from spaghetti tops to bags to pants, thanks to designers, both Indian and international. While Roberto Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana have incorporated satin brocade in their collections, Indian designers have rediscovered the fabric as part of their study of our heritage and culture, says designer Anju Modi, the person behind the Bajirao Mastani look, and an aficionado of textile revivals.

Why it’s back

“Trend forecast themes like metals, encrusted armour and ceremonial symbols have brought back a focus to opulent techniques like brocades, velvet, tissues and Mughal blocks in gold, silver and bronze hues,” says Modi.

This is also part of a subtle shift from the kind of heavily embroidered fabrics we’ve been using for party and wedding wear over the last few years.

“The shift is from in-your-face bling to more luxurious looks with an updated stylised quotient,” adds Anuradha Kumra, creative head, Fabindia, which has used brocade widely in its festive collection.

How it’s used

Brocade can also be teamed with georgette and chiffon, fabrics that allow it to seamlessly adapt to not just structured garments but also fluid and flattering styles, says Kumra.

Designer Archana Kochhar who uses brocade for her bridal collections says the fabric should not be used on its own. “The ideal way to use it is to treat it like embroidery, given its richness. The spare use of brocade makes the garment look pretty.”

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From HT Brunch, January 17, 2016

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