Here's a preview of our SS14 print catalog which will be available for order as fabric in GOTS certified organic cotton, for use in private label collections and as a part of our Mehera Shaw womenswear collections. These prints were developed by our design team, including many thanks to recent interns for their work and contributions. We'll be sampling these designs over the next few weeks and will make them available for order by December/January through the 2014 season.
This collection was inspired by the poetry of love and longing in ancient India as told in the story of Prince Khurram's love for Arjumand. It is a love reflected in mystical poetry, the desert sunset, lotus pools and the midnight stars. A love filled with beauty, splendor, joy, dreams and the infinite pain of longing.
Prince Khurram became Shah Jahan, emperor of India. Arjumand, his wife, became his beloved Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz died in childbirth; her last wish - that the world should know of their love. The inconsolable Shah Jahan had the Taj Mahal built in her memory, to be a magnificent sight, as beautiful as Paradise.
This collection reflects the wealth of a desert oasis and the passion of the desert sunset, romance and mystique against the desert. The motifs are emblematic of the mosaics and arabesque designs woven into the poetry of their love. The shadows and silhouettes mirror the reflections of a garden paradise.
Mood boards reflect both an oasis in the desert and the setting of the desert sun.
The Oasis shades of green, turquoise, cobalt are both a vision of serenity and cool splendor, like water in the desert, and of reawakening to a world within --a world of splendor, joy, dreams, at once bold and bright and delightfully playful.
The warm hues and mystique of of the Desert Sunset are likened to a spiritual journey, the mystical play of the nightingale and the rose, the romance of love --of opposities, of geometry and art, light and dark, heat and shadows. Our SS14 collection is titled Rani Ka Bagh (the queen's garden) in tribute to our inspiration: Arjumand.
All of the prints shown below in this collection are screen prints. We work with a printer in the town of Sanganeer, near Jaipur and use AZO free, low impact dyes. This type of screen printing is artisan based, hand work and requires several steps to develop and make the prints. First the prints are designed both by hand and later by CAD to set the repeat, colours and sizing. The print files are then given to our screen maker for preparing the large screens. The printing process, once the reactive dyes are prepared, is a two person process: the 50 meter length of table is coated with a thin film of wax which serves to hold the fabric in place, the cotton fabric is then laid out, stretched into place and smoothed down with wooden blocks. The screen alignment is checked by hand and then the printing begins. Two men, one on each side of the table, carry the screen, set it into the metal positioning rail and run a wooden 'blade' across the screen from the ink tray so that the dyestuff is evenly pressed across the surface and through the screen 'stencil' onto the fabric. One colour is printed at a time, so for example, a 5 colour print would use 5 individual screens to create the print.
The printing takes place in an open-air facility which is subject to weather conditions which can affect drying time, clarity and colour. The skills of the printers also strongly influence each print. The small variations and irregularities resulting from changes in pressure and screen alignment are visible in this type of artisan printing and are considered part of the 'flavour' of the Jaipur artisan prints.
Once the dyestuff is fixed and the fabric washed in small, concrete water 'pani' tanks, it is then hung on high bamboo racks, 'adaan', to dry. Usually someone is designated to climb the ladder and walk across the bamboo racks to physically hang the fabric in the rainbow of draped cloth which characterizes the landscape of the Jaipur area.
Both the final product and the process itself are an art form.
I should note here that we use both screen and block prints, but make a point to define which is which. We find beauty and use for each form and feel each helps to contribute to the local, informal economies. The techniques and history of each form are different and care should be taken to note the art and the process.
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