The pandemic has brought a new love for Indian crafts and techniques: designer Monica Shah
Seamstresses Monica Shah and Karishma Swali – of the JADE label – do not need to be introduced, as they have spent nearly a decade in the industry, having dressed figures like Alia Bhatt, Genelia D’Souza, Kiara Advani, Parineeti Chopra and others. .
They keep expanding, creating designs that stand the test of time and show a fusion of femininity and glamor. As they announce their two new flagship openings in New Delhi and Los Angeles, as well as the launch of their latest collection A summer memory, we interact via email and find out from Monica Shah what she has to say about the stability of the kaarigars, the only celebrity they’d love to work with, and their future plans as they complete 12 years in the industry, among other things.
Can you tell us a bit about your latest collection?
A summer memory is a bridal collection inspired by the idea of oneness – the time a bride spends with her loved ones and the memories she creates with them. The pieces are handcrafted using our signature techniques such as EkTaar, shade and hues, and wear that very dreamy quality.
The collection offers a diverse selection of sets – dresses and lehengas to dresses and more – so there is something for everyone from the bride to the wedding party. The color scheme is also refreshing and unique. The pieces are light yet glamorous and are handcrafted with precious moments in mind, allowing the wearer to fully and beautifully immerse themselves in them.
You try to keep a lot of the old handcrafted crafts such as ektaar; how were they affected during the pandemic?
With a plunge in opportunities came a plunge in consumption, so naturally the craft community took a hit. Our artisans are part of who we are, so our priority has always been to support them.
We are happy that things are improving now. In fact, the pandemic has brought about a distinct shift in perspective among consumers. There is a new love and appreciation for Indian craftsmanship and techniques while being mindful of luxury. Ancestral craftsmanship therefore takes its place.
How different are the flagship stores in Delhi and Los Angeles?
While both of our stores are designed to deliver the luxury JADE experience, they cater to different audiences, in terms of location which plays a key role in choosing a bridal ensemble.
Our Delhi store will likely carry more India-centric pieces, while the Los Angeles store will offer more modern and global pieces. That said, all of our clothes are made with the same philosophy and carry the JADE DNA of contemporary craftsmanship.
You have spent 12 years in the industry, what are some of the significant changes that have taken place in the past?
I think brides today know what they want. They don’t blindly follow trends or traditions. When we started 12 years ago, there was only a demand for a certain type of ensemble – overtly traditional and heavy.
And he was deeply influenced by the media. Today, women are much more demanding. They want their bridal ensembles to tell their stories and help them feel empowered in their own skin rather than [being] weighed down.
Which celebrity haven’t you worked with yet and would like to?
I would say, Rupi Kaur. She is fierce, outspoken and her art adds light to the world. She embodies what it means to be a citizen of the world at the same time, honoring her roots. It would be a joy to work with her.
What are you waiting for after completing a decade to carve out a niche for yourself and survive an ever changing industry?
Looking forward to having a truly global presence – more stores all over the world, so that we can interact with more and more brides and also pass India’s handcrafted heritage to the world.
As we meet more clients than ever before – through virtual consultations – it would be a pleasure to bring the sensory experience of JADE to more women around the world.
How do you plan to support artisans in the pandemic and how did you manage it?
We have supported our artisans from the start and will continue to do so, no matter what. With weddings back on the radar, we’re also returning to tailoring high fashion pieces.
We also have the Chanakya School of Craft – our non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Indian arts and crafts while empowering women from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue viable careers. It’s a lifelong commitment for us at JADE
Take a look at their latest bridal collection below.
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