Aab’s Latest Edition Celebrates Traditional Phulkari Brocades
Launched in 2021, Amritsar-based fashion label Aab is a passion project of London School of Economics and Political Science media graduate Shreya Mehra. Within a year, the brand has become one of the most popular choices for the antique beauty of intricately hand-embroidered pieces. The brand is in the news for reinterpreting and reviving the heritage hand embroideries of Phulkari in his latest collection, Trikon. recreate the phulkari embroideries in contemporary styles while respecting traditional processes, each piece in the collection is painstakingly created with hand-woven fabrics similar to antique Phulkari do it Khaddar. We caught up with founder Shreya Mehra to find out more about their latest collection, Trikon.
Tell us about your latest collection.
Trikon is inspired by geometry and complexity jaali work in Mughal architecture and the great pyramids. The geometry of the triangle, or Trikon represents a whole. A balance achieved by the sequence of forces. It symbolizes creative production. A harmony of energies coming together to evolve into something more meaningful. It is the visual representation of mathematical patterns found throughout man, nature and the cosmos. Of antiquity phulkari to Mughal architecture and the great pyramids, this essence of geometry has inspired art across cultures and continues to do so. Merging this with the values of Aab, we launched the Trikon collection, a balance between cultural heritage and modern aesthetics.
What was the inspiration behind the relaunch of the phulkari?
The idea of starting Aab has its roots in my own struggle to find a handcrafted piece of Phulkari that I could gift to my friends and family living elsewhere. I would go hunting in the streets of Amritsar, looking for that unique piece that is handcrafted and unique in its design. However, all I could find were mass-produced dupattas anyway. I had seen the antique pieces and knew the true beauty of craftsmanship. And that’s when I thought, “If I can’t find it, why wouldn’t I?”
Are there any patterns or designs specific to this collection?
Each piece of Aab is expertly handcrafted from hand-woven fabric and hand-embroidered with illuminating silk thread using ancient Phulkari techniques. Bagh (all embroidered phulkarisalmost like a flower garden), darshan Dewars (which were filled with architectural designs and meant to be presented to Gurudwaras), Sainchis (narrative embroideries that depicted scenes from daily life in the village and included human motifs), Thirmas (which were embroidered on plain white khaddars for elderly women and widows), and Steins (which were presented to a girl by her maternal grandmother on her wedding day) are among the five different and beautiful forms of Phulkari motifs from which Aab draws inspiration. It attempts to expand the scope of the craft beyond conventional dupattas to include flexible everyday clothing.
Show us the color palette?
The silhouettes are a combination of classic and contemporary. Aab is for everyone, from young teenagers to people in their fifties. One can find a range of classic shift dresses to fit and flare. Ruffled sleeves with cuff details are an important part of this collection. Coordinated sets are versatile and can be paired with many things in her existing wardrobe. Our collection also includes Kurtas, Kaftans with a fluid, fluid fit that’s comfortable and stylish for everyday wear, and anti-fitting outfits that include a range of party wear. The color palette is a refined mix of bright and muted shades and includes everything from checkered and striped varieties to solid shades. While the patt silk threads used are bright and bold – a defining characteristic of antiquity Phulkari rooms.
We talk a lot about sustainability and recycling in fashion, how do you ensure that in your collection?
All pieces are hand embroidered, hand woven, sustainable, recycled and made from khaddar cotton fabric. Matsya, our collection, has been made from recycled fabric and woven by hand on looms, reducing electricity waste. For 100 meters of recycled handwoven fabric consumed, 92 kg of CO2 are avoided, 126,000 liters of water are saved and 30 kg of waste is recycled. Our latest collection, trikona, is made with a naturally dyed khaddar cotton fabric using traditional techniques. Around 40% of our fabrics are naturally dyed and 50% of the products have been made from certified materials. Khadi/Khaddar fabrics.
What silhouettes can we expect?
We focus on introducing more Kaftans and anti-fit silhouettes, and be more inclusive of Indian body types.
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