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Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Interesting Designer


At a recent exhibition of her latest collection at the Indian High Commission's Nehru Centre, the designer Shazia Saleem enjoyed unexpected attention for her contemporary Rajasthani puppets.

Shazia Saleem specialises in sustainable high-end fashion using hand woven textiles. She showcased her collection of Indian handloom silks and Khadi cottons using creative displays, one of which was a large wooden frame from which luxurious silk evening wear and Rajasthani puppets were suspended. The puppets were made using the remnants of silks and looked delightful in amongst the dresses.

Coveted throughout the ancient world, India's rich history of hand weaving stretches back many thousands of years. Now, however, it is a dying industry as skilled weavers struggle to compete with industrialisation. Shazia's objective is to revive the hand weaving industry by making it as covetable as it once was and preserve hand weaving skills for future generations of weavers.

Shazia's passion for working with hand woven textiles extends to her recent collaboration with Harris Tweed, the prestigious manufacturers of hand woven Scottish wool, and who have sponsored two of her collections. Raised in Scotland, Shazia studied fashion in Florence and London and now lives and works in London and Delhi, seamlessly blending her cosmopolitan life into her designs .

She was recently selected to represent Britain for the Defra - sponsored Shared Talent India project to help promote Indian sustainable textiles, which showcased in London Fashion Week in September 2009.

Shazia's designs do not follow obvious fashion trends and inside every item is a tag explaining the story of the textile used. "I hope that owning at least one hand woven dress or scarf will become a wardrobe staple as much as the Little Black Dress" she said.

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