Indian Fashion 101 – Kalamkari is India’s Take on Graphic Design

Luxemi loves when clothing tells a story; that’s why we’re excited to tell you all about kalamkari work. With vibrant, hand-drawn illustrations penned straight onto a garment’s fabric, a kalamkari saree or salwar is India’s traditional take on graphic design!

Literally meaning “to draw with a pen,” the ancient technique of kalamkari has been practiced in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh for thousands of years as a way to depict and share stories from Hindu epics and world mythology. Kalamkari work is known for its gorgeous colors, intricate design and strong visual storytelling, all created through a delicate drawing and dying process. After preparing a piece of hand-woven cloth, a kalamkari artist hand-draws a sketch onto the fabric and outlines his or her design meticulously with ink. Eventually, each hand-drawn pen line is colored in with vibrant, bold hues coming from vegetable dyes. The artist preserves the beautiful dye shades by treating the fabric with hot and cold water, ensuring that the garment’s colorful story doesn’t fade with time.

Gorgeous kalamkari work sarees from runway shows

Chic takes on kalamkari by designers Neeta Lulla, left, and Sashikant Naidu. Source: Fashion Inquisitive

Traditionally used only to decorate the wall hangings in temples, kalamkari is making a strong fashion-forward comeback among designers with a flair for storytelling. Luxemi loves how Neeta Lulla’s designs put a modern twist on classic Indian silhouettes and techniques, especially when it comes to kalamkari. With gorgeous kalamkari work and delicate velvet embellishments, this salwar from the Neeta Lulla’s Lakme Fashion Week Winter 2011 collection makes a stunning visual statement. And Sashikant Naidu’s Duality Collection from Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2012 is the perfect example of how pairing kalamkari graphics with a Western silhouette makes the ancient Indian technique at home on the runway. The precision and intricacy of the kalamkari scene makes this chic, knee-length dress a walking piece of modern art. And without heavy embellishments or crystals, this kalamkari dress is easy to dress up or down for any occasion!

kalamkari graphic saree

Source: Luxemi

Want to put a modern twist on the intricate storytelling and vibrant colors of kalamkari work? Satya Paul’s hand-painted sarees offer an artful alternative to kalamkari. The designer’s Blue and White Moon Saree, available in Luxemi’s upcoming collection, has stunning graphic elements that evoke the whirling wind. Its chic moon-inspired motif and soft fade detailing complete this chic, abstract look.

Gorgeous saree spring 2012 fashion trends kalamkari work

Source: Luxemi

To match the vibrancy of kalamkari work, try Luxemi’s Multi-Color Painted Saree by Satya Paul. With vibrant colors and gorgeous glass beadwork that gleams with your every move, this animated saree definitely has a story to tell.

Luxemi loves fashion that tells a story. Have a kalamkari saree or salwar with an amazing narrative? Share it with us; we’re always here to listen!

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Filed under Indian Fashion 101, Runway Shows

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