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#MakeInIndia: Chanderi 101


Anushree Reddy

The current handloom revival taking the Indian fashion industry by storm has brought yet another so-far underrated fabric to the fore—the forever elegant chanderi weave. Not sure how it’s different from other textiles? We break down it’s history, wearability and contemporary avatars in a bid to help you understand this fabric better.

Chanderi in a nutshell

Rimple & Harpreet Narula

Rimple & Harpreet Narula

Chanderi is a small town nestled between hills in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Home to weaver families since the 1890s, this little town produces super-light, sheer, translucent fabric by weaving together silk and gold threads into cotton yarn. Similar techniques are used to weave pure silk and pure cotton versions. Traditionally, the zari work shows up as a rich gold border or two lines of gold on the pallu but also features butti work and motifs on the body of the fabric. In the early 1900s, the fabric became the chosen go-to for Scindian royalty and is preferred even today for its luxurious feel.

Why should you dote on chanderi?

Rahul Mishra

Rahul Mishra

The chanderi fabric is unique for three reasons — it’s luxurious, has a unique sheer quality, and can only be created by skilled artisans. Weavers from Chanderi know their weave like the back of their hands! The butti zari work involves intricate handwork using needles, and gold, silver and copper threads or coating. Chanderi is also the only Indian fabric that shimmers because the glue from the raw yarn is not removed when making it. It’s breathable nature makes it a perfect warm-weather staple!

Fashion designers who love chanderi

Anju Modi

Anju Modi

When a fabric is light and wearable, yet shimmery and dressy, who wouldn’t take notice? Rahul Mishra, a designer who enjoys working with Indian craftspeople to creating contemporary silhouettes, championed this fabric early on. He has created dresses, tunics and even trench coats with this lightweight fabric. Designer Sanjay Garg’s relationship with the fabric (read: saris under his Raw Mango label) is here to stay too. Both Garg and Mishra have innovated with the traditional chanderi butti motif introducing new landscapes such as cypress trees and bolder lotus motifs. Ikai by Ragini Ahuja has given this fabric an edgy, modern update, season after season. Designers like Anita Dongre, Anju Modi, Anushree Reddy, Ekaya, Matsya, Rimple and Harpreet Narula work extensively with the fabric as well.

Styling your chanderi pieces

Not sure of chanderi’s versatility? We convince you otherwise. Wear a chanderi anarkali with a printed jacket and sharara pants for layered perfection. The sheer quality of the anarkali will lend it the right amount of peek-a-boo. Pair a chanderi maxi skirt and colourful crop top for a mehendi. Chanderi lehengas are ideal for summer weddings as well.

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Shop chanderi must-haves on Aashni + Co here