Two childhood friends, one common mission: Of keeping Patiala’s hand-craft legacy alive. Designer Saurabh Aggarwal and much-celebrated trap shooter Rajeshwari Kumari recently got together to present the look of the Patiala bride. Traditionally dressed in the finest hand-embroidered ensemble that is finished with the customary draping of a bagh or phulkari odhna. They launched their namesake couture label, Saurab-Rajeshwari, crafting a true blue legacy driven brand based out of Punjab with global imprints online.
Sehar Inder Kaur.
Whilst Saurab, born and brought up in the pristine city of Patiala started his journey with bridal couture in 2012, acclaimed shooting champion Rajeshwari Kumari finds the need to keep her family’s legacy alive. Together they present to legacy lovers a very refreshing collection of bridal wear.
Saurab has worked with craftsmen and artisans all over the country to highlight indigenous tilla and zardozi work. He is currently focused on reviving the traditional art of phulkari, native to Punjab. Rajeshwari meanwhile is inspired by the elegant women of her family who for years have not just expressed their feminine side through the craft of Bagh and phulkari but also nurtured women from their surrounding villages who practice this craft as a means of livelihood. The daughter of Raja Randhir Singh, Acting President, Olympic Council of India, Rajeshwari wears both the hats of fashion revivalist and sportswoman with equal élan.
“Born in the culturally rich city of Patiala I felt our regal legacy, our history of craft patronage needed to be kept alive and hence I joined hands with Saurab who has a trained eye in fashion,” shares Rajeshwari. Adds Saurab, ”Couture and design is in my blood And Punjab’s rich craft heritage my pride. Nothing is more elegant than a Punjabi bride draped in her phulkari odhna. This is the tradition that I want to keep alive.”
Launching with a very ethereal collection of bridals crafted by hand in the most luscious of pastels and worn with the phulkari dupatta, the label now focuses on a stunning Bagh collection. Modelled to perfection by Captain Amarinder Singh’s two beautiful granddaughters, Sehar Inder Kaur and Inayat Inder Kaur, besides other young daughters of erstwhile noble families of Punjab and Himachal. As the sportswoman turned designer Rajeshwari, who is the best muse to her creations, feels, “No one can do better justice to this look than my cousins who have grown up wearing these traditional clothes.”
Phulkari is threadwork that uses linear stitches to create intricate flower-like patterns. The finished work is known as bagh (or garden) and worn by women in Punjab during marriages and festivals. Women embroidered on khaddar (coarse cotton) on the wrong side of the fabric using silken threads called pat da dhaga. In Bagh (meaning garden) style, the entire surface is embroidered. By using the darning stitch (horizontal, vertical and diagonal), numerous designs are made.
A revered canvas of expression for years for women of Punjab, phulkari and Bagh when coupled with the couture labels impeccably finished bridal ensemble gain a new, rich meaning. It is like the finest of both worlds: luxury couture and handcraft heritage coming together.