Weaving the Warrior Princess: Ragas of the Charioteer Collection by Harshitaa Chatterjee Deshpande

Harshitaa Chatterjee Deshpande is a filmmaker and fashion designer who made her fashion design debut at the Lakmé Fashion Week Winter Festival held in Mumbai, India August 23rd to 27th. Her freshness and youth come together with her interest in Indian history and revival to inform and shape her Ragas of the Charioteer Collection, a stunningly exquisite combination of color, texture, and form.

Video via Lakmé Fashion Week on YouTube.

These designs are inspired by the traditional clothing of princesses of the Maratha Empire, a warrior class that rose to power in India during the 17th century and flourished until it was vanquished by the British Empire in 1818. Members of this caste still have a proud national identity and heritage, although they no longer rule, and can be found primarily in the states of states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Goa.

Indian loom for weaving silk, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, northern India
Indian loom for weaving silk, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, northern India
© Jorge Royan with CCLicense

Indian fabric in general is a marvel; the creativity and quality of execution exhibited in this handwoven medium is unmatched. Modern machines are powerless to equal the variety, subtlety and imagination found there. The tribal weavers of Paithani are some of the best of the best. They fashioned clothing for the Maratha royalty centuries ago and continue to work traditional patterns from that time. Deshpande worked with these artisans to capture this wonderfully detailed and elegant weaving that is recognized worldwide and blend it with new yarns and ideas from other parts of India, creating different fabrics which can be wed to contemporary forms and styles. It is this blending of cultures that makes this collection so unique. It is fascinating when traditions blend and boundaries dissolve, creating something new that honors its parent traditions.

Want to see more?

Look at this gallery at Bharatstudent.com.

And this wonderful article at Bollywood Showtime which inspired our research and interest.

You might also like this article about the Varanasi looms in northern India which are threatened by globalization.

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