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Return of the haute stuff

Chiffons and silks may go well with ornamentation, but the modest cotton has gained a place in the wardrobe too.
By Nisha Kundnani | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON AUG 15, 2007 01:25 PM IST

Chiffons, georgettes and silks may be more pricey and go well with ornamentation, but as anyone will tell you there's nothing like good old cotton and so the poor country cousin of clothing is even going majorly high-end.

Change of mindset
Oprah Winfrey, on one of her recent shows, went gaga about cotton defining it as synonymous for her with luxury. Fashion retailer and designer Gayatri Ruia states, "It's a natural fabric.

"Most of the cotton we grow in India is hand-woven and pure. It's believed to be cheap and economical.. but not really. It's truly stylish."

She adds, "Whether it's silk or cotton, fashion needs to marketed.. Cotton is the real McCoy of our industry. It's bound to become aspirational as our prêt market is expanding like that of Europe and America"

Cotton in, early times, was referred to as 'White Gold'.

It plays an important role in the economy of the United States which exports six million bales of raw cotton every year.

Archaeologists first found fragments of it in the Indus Valley of India in 3000 BC.

Space suits are made of cotton mixed with other yarns.



Always in vogue
Couture designers John Galliano, Boudicca and Chloé have used cotton for their summer lines.Closer to home, Abraham and Thakore and Rajesh Pratap Singh are identified with cotton designer wear.

Goa-based designer Wendell Rodricks says, "There's a problem about cotton only in India. It has taken nearly 100 years to give respect to a fabric that's 5000 years old.

My collection on the racks was made purely of cotton which I preferred over silk and embroidery.. No one considered it chic then.. people still don't. But for me it's the noblest fibre."

Rodricks' no-fuss, origami inspired geometric cuts compliment any fabric. "I use silks, georgettes, linens.. but land up using cotton most of all. It's the easiest fabric to cut and style," he asserts.

User-friendly
Although it's a small percentage but there are designers who are cotton-centric. Delhi-based newcomer Swati Bhimte has never touched any other fabric. "Cotton has been abused for long," she says.

"Some designer don't know how to treat it right. For colour good vegetable dyes are essential. At times, dyers just don't give the fabric any finishing. It's also possible to mix cotton with other yarns during the weaving process to make it soft and buttery."

The other misconception is that it's high maintenance. "It's a matter of convenience to treat it just as a wear-and-tear fabric. That needs to be changed. Why can't people treat cotton like silk?" ends Ruia.

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