At the cusp of seismic shift from Indian monarchy and British Raj to democratic freedom of a Nation, there was gentle indication of the face of the new nation foretold by the extraordinarily charming and graceful princesses of India.
It was a time of change with Indian Royalty pulled into Western education and lifestyle to show their obeisance to their British Masters and yet somehow retain their deep affinity to Indian culture and traditions to maintain relevance to their subjects. In this delicate to maneuver situation, the Princesses of Jaipur, Kapurthala and Hyderabad came into their own. They mesmerised the Western world with their beauty and a stunning sense of style where they blended the European sensibility with the beloved emblematic Indian garment – the sari. Accounts of people who came in the ethereal presence of these Princesses, tell the tale of astonishment at the mere possibility of such beauteousness and grace.
Mercifully, the advent of photography in India coincided with the lives of these royals and therefore affords us a visual treat of gazing upon the captivating portraits that invokes in the onlooker a heady sense of nostalgia and a desire to know more of these women who, along with being the bewitching ‘Belle of the Ball’, were also champions of women education, health and well being.
In these photographs, that exist somewhere between fact, as recorded by the photographer, an image projection as undertaken by the subject, a huge space of onlooker’ imagination. In this delicate space of imagination and illusion, our collection has taken form.
‘The Winter Rose’ is deeply inspired by the westernised interpretation of the sari usually worn by the Princesses in warm climate of India to acclimatise to the cold, windy London and Paris during their visits while fully retaining their opulence and glamour.
Sailesh Singhania pays homage to the Princesses in his opulent handwoven silk saris and lehngas that lovingly hold in its warp and weft all that was dear to these ‘Beauties with a Purpose.’ The woven motifs include roses, whimsical Hyderabad chandeliers, tea pots and tea cups, pattern of a beloved Jaipur ‘jharokha’ and such iconography.
This collection – The Winter Rose – pushes the boundaries on the perception of handwoven textiles by infusing playfulness while tightly retaining the highest quality of the craft of handweave. The colours are a celebration of festive winters with ruby red, celebratory orange, royal purple, fuchsia pink, emerald green with luxurious vintage gold zari work.
The silhouettes are western with long over-coats, trench, pea coats with high collars in remembrance of our Royal roses while travelling in Europe, caused a furor among the onlookers who thronged to get a glimpse of their beauty and impeccable, unequalled style.
‘The Winter Rose’ is a respectful nod to the elegant Princesses who enthralled with her saris – showcased in the western sensibility – to become a toast of international glittering society and to find her ranking among the ten most beautiful and stylish women of the world.