Summer Afternoons with My Grandmother

Summer Afternoons with My Grandmother

This aubergine lehenga was a part of the upcycled clothing project at the Priyanka Raajiv studio. As an upcycling designer, the stories and emotions inherent in pieces of vintage clothing become a part of the story of the studio, instructing our ideas around clothing. This piece was upcycled for a client from her grandmother's saree featuring paisley motifs and buti work. The butis were re-appliqued and repositioned to fit with the lehanga's flare. The tassels were added to the original vintage piece to give it a youthful edge, combining a bit of the old and the new in the upcycled garment.

What Emotion Does Summer Signify to You?

The word summer is used with great frequency by fashion designers to describe cycles in the world of fashion. It denotes a form of fashion clothing, or clothing ideas for styling and dressing to suit a season or trend. It permits the evolution of new styles for a season that is all about the outdoors, renewal and freedom. And yet, in India, summer is also arguably a season of the indoors and to turn inward, towards the depth of our relationships with one another and the land. A season for travelling back to your grandmother's home for the summer vacations, of long naps, walks in mango orchards and rummaging through vintage clothes in grandmother's almirah. Of lounging on a slumbering summer afternoon, wrapped in one of grandmother's favourite aubergine sarees, as she oils your hair, and you talk about her past and your hopes for the future.

A Memory to Savour: Dig into a family recipe for pickled mangoes from a young chef

We consider fashion clothing as a perspective on clothing, and at our studio, each piece of clothing has a story to tell. The upcycling process aligns itself with these stories. When we take requests to upcycle vintage clothing, we consider what makes the garment vintage in the first place. Is it the lifespan of the garment or the memories inherent in the vintage garment? Invariably we discover what is most important to the relationship between the garment and the people is to have cherished it. When you view old clothes in this way, you realise that the idea of vintage is enshrined in generational relationships, in passed down wisdom, love and care. It is this quality of love, care and wisdom that gives shape to our upcycling process.

Little by little, a little becomes a lot- Tanzanian Proverb

The aubergine saree was an heirloom piece sparking happy memories. Despite its wear and tear, it continued to carry the optimism of its original owner and draped fluidly, in an airy clasp lending its wearer a lightness of being. After consulting with our client, we realised that the saree would transform beautifully into a lehenga, preserving and enhancing these original qualities and giving them new life. So, we worked towards upcycling the vintage saree into a roomy, beautiful, happy lehenga, perfect for summer lounging and festive seasons. We used the original border for the lehenga. The paisley motifs and buti designs were uplifted and repositioned using applique work to fit the fall and flare of the new upcycled garment. And finally, we used upcycled fabric to give the lehenga a flush of vibrancy with a bouquet of tassels.

For our client and us, this very special lehenga will stay as a reminder of summer afternoons when time stands still and of relationships that last an eternity.