Saturated with floral clichés and trunks full of French chiffons, she is seeking to explore the vintage-chic vibe. She appreciates zardosi artistry over mukaish, but her millennial daughter is more drawn towards sequinned Art Deco motifs. She’s never thought of draping contemporary patterns or geometric abstractions before, but is daring to give it a thought. When it comes to her younger one’s trousseau, she considers traditional solutions, but the bride-to-be would rather invest in acing brunch and soiree looks. If you can sympathise with the conundrum of this hypothetical mother-daughter duo, Kriya by Kadambari Rathore can be the perfect one-stop shop for you. Crafted exclusively by artisans from Jodhpur, Kriya’s unique collection is curated for India’s cosmopolitan fleet of saree lovers. 

Kadambari Rathore

Kadambari, who belongs to the house of Daspan and is based out of Jodhpur, says, “I have never looked at the saree as a wardrobe collectible. I’ve only ever known it as a way of life. I grew up watching my mother drape herself in ever so elegant and eye-catching pieces from a personal collection that she continues to grow passionately. But my own passion also stems from memories of rummaging through my grandmother’s trunks, when the awe and wonder I felt made me realise that I was running my hands over wearable pieces of art and not just reams of fabric.”

Tracing the story behind the design label’s nomenclature, the eloquent founder and leading lady explains, “Kriya stands for the slow but timeless fashion that brands itself into human memory, a place where it is preciously guarded to be savoured by the true lovers and connoisseurs of intricate style. Generations of artisans have handed down their talent and expertise to their offspring, who have become the new secret bearers of their crafts. And their age-old familial legacy gives itself away in the glimpses of their handiwork. Thus, it is their ‘kriya’ or completed artistry, hence the name.”

The 36-year-old is now gaining much popularity amongst India’s elites for her immaculate work and keen eye for detail. Kadambari rightly observes the equation between artists, curators, their clientele and the field of art that they jointly inhabit, as a complex one. She reasons that this is especially so because of the cyclical exchange between an existing art form and its consumers. So long as it is consumed by the broader society, an art form continuously affects and is in turn affected by societal trends. However, their dual wavelengths might not always converge, and that is where Kadambari factors in. 

Kriya strikes the heart of this symbiosis by mediating between artisanal handiwork and its curators. The role of translating commercial impetuses to better hone an artistic legacy comes with great responsibility. In this light, Kadambari perceives her venture with a seriousness that can be associated with a genuine design revivalist. She makes no mistake in considering Kriya’s commercial success as a direct means of socio-economic emancipation for its constituting artisans. Each one of them depends on her label for the modern-day survival of their livelihoods. 

On an average, Kadambari’s masterpieces have a production time of at least a month and a half, when they are patiently handcrafted from start to finish by master embroiderers, craftsmen and dyers.  With a deep consciousness of Jodhpur’s artisanal values, she shares her vision of expanding her revivalist brand to NRIs through online portals. Currently, her work can be found on Facebook and Instagram and can be contacted via email for appointments. But she also aspires to feature in a greater number of exhibitions and to ultimately cultivate her organic clientele into a full-blown retail sector that she will cater to via a standalone fashion outlet in the not-so-distant future. 

The writer is an author, blogger and the editor-in-chief of the Rajputana Collective.