Why Anita Dongre chose to reinterpret the beauty of Pichhwai, an ancient art form.
The first strokes of Pichhwai were committed to fabric nearly 400 years ago, and yet they remain ageless to this day. What has now come to be known as an art form began as a joyous confluence of faith and devotion in which richly-coloured masterpieces of Lord Krishna were decorated with motifs of swaying trees and dancing birds. The canvas for these artworks is often jewel-toned, and the use of gold to paint the motifs and details makes Pichhwai a rich visual treat. Over the years, Pichhwai has also been used as an element of design.
On a trip to Rajasthan for a campaign shoot, Anita met a Pichhwai master-artist named Lekhrajji, when he was painting the walls of City Palace. His meticulous detailing and imaginative use of colours fascinated her and once they started to talk, Anita realised that opportunities for artists like him were few and far between. Which inspired her to think about how she could play a role in reinterpreting Pichhwai and giving it new forms of expression.
Working with Lekhrajji, who visited the Anita Dongre headquarters in Mumbai, Anita created the Pichhwai Collection, which really stands true to her design philosophy of creating one-of-a-kind couture pieces that also empower artisans.
Every year, the design atelier adds a limited number of pieces to the Pichhwai collection. The design and paintings evolve over time, slowly. Each silhouette painted and embellished by hand. These detailed works of art are made only when an order is placed, and takes weeks to be fully realised.