Pero – ‘To Wear’ in Marwari – a Labour of Love by Aneeth Arora
On a restful Friday afternoon I came across a collection that spoke to me like no other collection ever had. The collection belonged to the brand ‘Pero’ – ‘to wear’ in the Marwari dialect of Rajasthan – launched in 2009 by Aneeth Arora, a textile graduate from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and a fashion graduate from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Mumbai – where I study. The garments on the pages of Vogue India, December Edition, called to me in their quiet simplicity. When I saw the Ajrakh prints (block prints) on Chanderis (type of silk), the casual cuts and the layered look, the not-so-rigid side seams, I felt quite proud of my country. It was a profound moment and the meaning of ‘unique’ dawned upon me. It was stimulating; I felt like my own creativity was realized through someone else. I felt as though I’d shot a villain dead, from a gun rested on the respected designer’s shoulders. I was just being romantic.
Aneeth Arora’s story is of the ilk that injects a constructively wild drive into one. The feedback of the attendees of her foremost fashion show at India’s most celebrated Lakme Fashion Week was an awful one.
She, however, refused to be diffused. Living up to what Sir John Lubbock had said ages ago “…a frank pleasant manner will often clench a bargain more effectually than half per cent”; Arora did not ‘adjust’ her fashion. Eventually, people did cede to her sagacity.
Pero, inspired by aam janta (normal public), presents a fluently wearable collection with thought to the detail. It can be called minimalistic; however the assortment is unique to be put under that genus either.
The asphyxiating gaudiness and the nocturnal Red Carpet glamour are deficient in the à la mode messy, sexy daywear clothes. Known for its scarves, it is a democratic brand, as “it is for the people and by the people”, as quoted by Arora
Focusing on the “Labour of Love” Spring/Summer collection of 2014 for Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, the colour theme (white by and large, black, shades of red and grey, straw and diminutive sum of floral colours) was a euphoniously soothing one.
There is a ken of jeopardy in anything that is not emblematic, and most especially in hybrid stuff. The look is not unidentifiable to a regular Indian because the textiles are locally made Indian handloom textiles. However, the drape and hand was not quintessentially Indian. Pero is the destination where local textiles meet international cuts, where low budget meets elegant designs.
The assemblage of Pero is completely hand stitched and hand crafted, and depicts the culture of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and other states of India. In “Labour of Love”, Arora approaches Indian textile practices with the basic form-dot. The collection is rather ephemeral-in the straw boaters, and light blowy ensembles, in the frisky casual shoes and in willowy bandanas.
The muse of this collection includes plain jackets stitched and worn by wayfaring tribes worldwide, checked lungis (type of antariya – lower unstitched garment) worn by Muslims in Lucknow, crochet and European lace, the luxuriant trousseaus Kutchi women darn and embroider for their daughters’ weddings, the custom of kantha (type of embroidery) practiced by women in West Bengal, etc. “Labour of Love” seems to be the entrance to a new forte Arora has entered as a “dressmaker”. As a decree, Arora embraces Jamdanis (fine muslin) from West Bengal; block printing fromKutch, Ikats (type of dyeing technique) from south India, Bandhanis (tie-dyed fabrics) from Rajasthan, and Chanderis and Maheshwaris from Madhya Pradesh.
The core of the theme goes this way: She looked to the skies and wished. She remembered all the people that inspired her. The journey had just begun. And by late evening, it started raining. “Labour of Love” is a picturesque saga enacted on bossanova descants of “The Girl of Ipanema” It’s her life story beseeching to be hearkened by the world on runway.
The enmesh she leaves behind in people she passes is tangible as top model Indrani Dasgupta walks in her “First Look” anti-fit baby doll dress. The French style she personifies and the Indian material she sports; also the red bindis (dots)on her bare feet are thespian and represent rain, like all dots in the collection. The whole thing is thespian, and hedonist, yet pragmatic. It’s the theme, in all finality, getting materialized, as there are ribbons, bows and cupcakes – like a summer afternoon in a Parisian café.
The girls wear floating, loose sheer layers and straw boaters – symbolic of benightedness. Every garment – labour of love, indeed, is a direct come out of Arora’s atelier. The “First Look” is a knee length, three-fourth sleeved, layered sheer white summer cotton tunic. There are horizontal lines of lace spaced whimsically, yet not uneven, all over the dress. The model is also wearing an understated wreath on head. Some models carry floral kerchiefs with white back ground, and floral press kits with golden or black handles. Boots of white, pink, off-white and silver are also seen being sported, with gloves and socks of crochet and lace.
In a nutshell, English rose print, permutations of red, black and white checks and stripes, collars – are all witnessed. Princess lines are in most pieces, only not slam-bang there… There are no plummeting neck-lines and no lofty hemlines (except in one black polka dotted flared frock). I’ve noted that most people seek something vulgar, or exceedingly byzantine, or deucedly ‘not wearable’, or beautiful in hackneyed terms, or symbolic to certify it as ‘good fashion’ in pitiable ignorance. But Pero typifies aesthetics inincompleteness and practicality. Though preferred to be called a ‘dressmaker’, Arora is truly a designer. Her work is not art; thank God, it is smart and utilitarian – it is design.
This article was written and submitted by Nandini Sahay for Round 1 of Modeconnect’s International Fashion Writing Competition. Nandini Sahaywas invited to take part in Round 2. Read all the published submissions