Lounge Loves: Cashmere saris by Tanira Sethi


Lounge Loves: Cashmere saris by Tanira Sethi

Tanira Sethi, 23, has a “powerful” problem. She is the daughter of Sunil Sethi, president of the Fashion Design Council of India, labelled the first man of Indian fashion for his entrepreneurial and networking prowess. As his daughter, and a debuting textile designer, access to creative and business opportunities could have been simple. But it won’t take away the multiple expectations in performance and creativity the fashion industry will have from her.

But Tanira also had a powerful idea two years back. She showcased a small sample of cashmere saris at a design exhibition in Delhi. Handwoven and delicately finished in muted colours, they were standout pieces that got the right media coverage (you could credit Sunil Sethi for inviting the right people), but were soon forgotten.

Then Tanira, a textile design graduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi, went to the UK to study at the Chelsea College of Arts. Alongside, she won, in 2015, an award for a project on “refashioning the unstitched garment”.

On her return to India, Tanira imaginatively revived her cashmere saris, getting them woven in different weaving clusters of India in 100% cashmere. A fortnight back, the first complete collection of saris from her label Taani by Tanira Sethi was displayed at the Patine store at the DLF Emporio mall in Delhi. The collection had three segments: handwoven, hand-painted and lace saris, all in exquisite cashmere. While cashmere saris will be seen by some design and textile experts as innovative and relevant extensions of long cashmere shawls (men’s dorukha shawls in Kashmir are 7m in any case), the saris, made from Leavers Lace fabric, conceptualized by Ezma Fine Cashmere, London, and woven in France by Beauvillain Davoine, are a first. Tanira’s promotional communication bills these saris as the “world’s first cashmere lace saris”. A claim hard to refute and easy to admire given the delicate texture, feel and colour palette—grey, charcoal, maroons and muddy browns among a couple of accented blacks and deep blues. It is smart design work that capitalizes on an untried aspect of Indian-European couture.

Personally, I love Tanira’s woven and hand-painted saris, especially those in deep blues and muddy browns, a lot more than the lace ones. All the same, there is no denying the appeal of cashmere lace among India’s couture clientele, always on the lookout for something Indian that looks at least a little non-Indian. If Tanira is able to keep up the consistent production of such saris and innovate in the right direction by retaining her debut signature of non-blingy, woven saris in authentic yarn, she won’t need her father’s access to take her places.

Taani by Tanira Sethi, at Patine, Second floor, DLF Emporio mall, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi. Prices range from Rs70,000 to Rs1.5 lakh, with lace saris being the most expensive.