Experience Exquisite Brocades and Ethical Silks at the Threads of India Exhibition


Brocade Jacket by Romance was Born at Threads of India exhibition
Romance Was Born is an inspirational contemporary Australian fashion house fusing together unique storytelling vision with design prowess. The design duo Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales create covetable pieces with hand-worked details of applique, embroidery, intricate beading and sequined elements.

The  Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival brings together not only fashion shows, but also fashion exhibitions and here is one worth visiting if you enjoy seeing exquisite brocades and silks and understanding more about the artisan processes to create the divine garments you see on display.

Roopa is a fashion house that values ethical, individual and luxury fashion. The brand’s vision is to respect artisans, giving back while creating something entirely new, beautiful and unexpected. Consciously slow-fashion, each piece centres on beautiful silhouettes, timeless embellishments and a bold attitude to colour and print. a desire to infuse art and the natural environment into the collection has become a strong narrative for the brand. Their aim is to design future heirlooms, to be handed down from one generation to the next.

Supported by the Ministry of Textiles India and the Australian Government, the retrospective will be the first its kind. There is a comprehensive display of exquisite Indian textiles alongside photography, video,  and the collections of some of Australia’s leading independent designers identifying the regional techniques which will highlight the cultural significance and role of the artisans.

The exhibition demonstrates the richness and diversity of India’s textiles with a focus on biodiversity and craftsmanship and the context of hand-loom in the sustainable lifestyle and fashion industries.  The stunning creations in the exhibition have walked the runways of fashion weeks all over the world! A highlight will be Artisans of Fashion’s sustainability agenda and the relevance of India’s hand-loomed textiles including Khadi – a story at the heart of Indian culture and Eri “Peace” silk from India’s North East which will be at the centre of our panel discussion addressing the issues of climate change and the impact of the fast fashion industry. 

Threads of India exhibition - KitX
KitX – Kit Willow pursues her love of creation in harmony with her passion for nature. She strives to be a pioneer in design-led sustainable and ethical fashion. Producing fashion that is of superior quality and creative design while consciously sourcing materials that minimise harm to the planet.

With a heart of sustainability, one of the most interesting sets of garments are those of designer Naushad Ali, who has used the offcuts and the weaver’s floor sweepings to create beautiful garments all dyed with natural indigo.

Threads of India Nausad Ali
Naushad Ali is an Indian designer with minimalist inclinations. He fosters a deep love of Indian traditions and crats and challenges himself to create modern cuts with these heritage fabrics and to use traditional fabrics in a sustainable way. For example, the jacket on the left is made from offcuts of fabrics, normally thrown out.

The content will educate and inspire giving context to the Artisan’s extraordinary craftsmanship and generating a curiosity around the traditional skills to drive modern innovation in a sustainable fashion industry.Threads of India exhibition

At the launch of this exhibition was a panel discussion where Clare Press, Sustainability Editor of Vogue and Wardrobe Crisis podcaster chatted with Artisans of Fashion founder Caroline Poiner, Editor at Large of Vogue India Bandana Tewari, designers Naushad Ali and Cassandra Harper along with LCI Melbourne’s Michael Peck.

Threads of India - Romance was Born
Beautiful hand-woven brocade fabric and exquisite embroidery from Romance Was Born

There was a fascinating discussion into the crafts of the rural Indians in villages that produce these stunning textiles – the weavers, dyers, block printers whose skills could easily die out with modern manufacturing techniques if we are not careful, yet what they make is not reproduceable by machine.  Naushad spoke about how his father was a textile merchant, he grew up around fabric and the local village weavers and was drawn to fashion.  He spoke about how he likes to work with the artisans and be inspired by what they can make.   He shared that the sari has been in Indian fashion for 10 000 years – now that’s slow fashion. 

Threads of India Exhibition LCI Melbourne
Left to right: Clare Press, Caroline Poiner, Bandana Tewari, Naushad Ali, CassandraHarper, Michael Peck

Historically the biggest output of Indian fabrics to international fashion houses (Dior, Chanel and Prada etc.) has been embroidery work, that is exquisitely hand-stitched and cannot be replicated by machines, Bandana Tewari told us.  The weavers, embroiderers and embellishers that make the fabrics in couture gowns have always been the invisible hands that have gone unrecognised until now.  In fact, she created the Renaissance Project (see below) to bring focus to the work of those master artisans who make the finest fabrics.

Hemang Agrawal designs at Threads of India exhibition LCI Melbourne
Hemang Agrawal specialises in apparel and textiles made of natural fibres and precious metal yarns, depoloying venrable weaving techniques which are fast disappearing formthe present day textile venacular. His eponymous label embodies Indian craft heritage in a contemporary form.

“In the search for unique and bespoke, India’s textile artisans provide designers with rich and diverse possibilities; likewise, our designers can present these incredible techniques to the rest of the world.” Caroline Poiner

Handicraft map of India

See the exhibition Free at LCI Melbourne 150 Oxford St, Collingwood, Victoria  MONDAY 4 MARCH – FRIDAY 29 MARCH 9PM – 5PM

Vogue India’s Project Renaissance

This brought together the gorgeous handmade Indian textiles with the world’s leading fashion designers.  Read about it here then watch the video below.


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