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Modi bahu resurrects Parsi embroidery 

HUMA SIDDIQUI  
Here is a design label synonymous with underplayed chic. In the process ofpromoting chic, `Obsession' plays the role of an art patron, too, infusingnew life into the two dying crafts of Lucknow's chikankari and Parsi gara.The genius behind Obsession, Bina Modi, is a designer the couture world iskeenly observing today. Modi, who belongs to the Modi family, could have satback in her cocoon of comfort, but she preferred to opt for the one avatarshe loves best -- that of an art restorer.

A self-tutored designer, Modi takes the craft of clothing to the realm offine art. It was almost 10 years ago that she first thought of going intothe business of couture. Since then her label, Obsession, retailed from herstore in Okhla, in New Delhi, has made a mark internationally with herhusband showcasing her collection in Dubai, Singapore and London.

``Designing came naturally to me, and most of the styles I worked with hadan element of fun, a look of today and a feel that was contemporary chic,''says Modi.

``And then one summer, I discovered the innate beauty of chikankari the wayit was done for the Rajwada court costumes. That was when I realised thatbeyond the commercial decay the art form was facing lay a treasure trove. Igot together a core group of master craftsmen and worked closely with them,crafting slim silhouettes, innovative colour palettes and stylisedembellishments to accentuate this superior quality embroidery genre,'' sheadds.

Modi crafted panels in the sheerest chiffon kurtas, created a single paisleymotif to go with elaborate jaal patterns and mixed ribbons, stones, jewels,pearls and other embroidery forms with chikankari to add an element of dramato the classic art.

Modi's chikankari is of the finest quality. She works closely with herkaarigars (workmen), giving them innovative khakas (looms) to work with. Sheturns the design wheel to bring in innovations that have her stamp ofcreativity on them. Like combining satin ribbons with chikankari. ``Thefirst sample of that I embroidered myself. I have also tried combining goldwith tone on tone embroidery to make the garment more dressy,'' she says.

Or even combining the Lucknowi chikankari with her other hot favourite,Parsi gara. The gara, which is usually worked in silk, is virtually afolklore rendered in embroidery. Truly representative of the century oldParsi culture in India, gara unfurls a story based in Mother Nature anddepicting her various tempestuous moods. Reviving this museum art byrediscovering master craftsmen belonging to traditional crafts families,Modi has crafted saris, short kurtis and classic, English-style blouses togo with slim pants in crepe. Modi's design style is rooted in a classicalmode that, through her creative experiments, gets re-created in a morecontemporary, fun style. Like the crushed tissue sari that is totallyresplendent under the magnificence of the Parsi tapestry art.

Modi's clothing line is priced between Rs 7,000 and Rs 60,000. Usinggeorgettes, silks, chiffons and satins, she also designs outfits for theyounger generation. And for the more conservative, Modi offers asalwar-kameez collection that ranges between Rs 10,000 and Rs 25,000. A bithigh, isn't that? The price depends on the intricate work done on individualpieces, she explains, and adds in the same breath that her clothing line isonly for the upper classes. How's that for snob value?

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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