Khadi or Khaddar – an indian homespun cotton cloth often referred as ‘fabric of social change’. It got its identity from a crucial role it played during the Indian independence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. Most commonly worn today in India and Pakistan.
Khadi has been central to India through their struggle for independence. Silk trades and routes were integral in the growth of it’s economy and the people. Realising the fabric’s importance in the countries economic growth, Gandhi supported the growth of india’s fabric industries so that it would support their local tradesmen and garment workers and eventually allow for an economical freedom rise. Helena’s work is a reflection of the textiles and patterns of her history. Her brand is a modern day patron and advocate for all things which are rooted in authenticity and Gandhism values. Helena Bajaj Larsen is reviving its original meaning. Inspired by her grandparents, (who were friends and followers of Mahatma Gandhi ) and her families history with Khadi and its value system, Helena’s Fall / Winter 2017 Collection is an exploration of heritage and traditions. She studied Fashion Design at Parsons, in New York, and studied a semester abroad at Central Saint Martins (CSM) in London.
It is in London where she focused on Print Design to create handprinted textiles through work experience with Mary Katrantzou and studying the skilled work of artisans in workshops in India. And it shows in her work. Using a variety of Khadi materials such as raw silk, organza and cotton canvas, the collection embodies free flowing draped dresses, flared pants, off the shoulder loose tops. The fabric was sourced from India and are hand painted with acid and pigment dyes. Born to an Indian artist, Helena has more than just fashion under her list of skills. Her focus on art in general is the basis of creating her own jewellery collection, exploring metal work and focus on textural explorations on fabric.
Her mother is an artist, whose work she greatly admired and practiced since she was young. It’s here where her foundations and the love of art and design is rooted from. “The work I make rests upon high-end craftsmanship and hopes to raise awareness about the beautiful things that can be achieved when the hand becomes the driving factor in design.” – It’s refreshing to see the art of revival in Helena’s collections. Her work is neither functional nor common, its there to be treasured for those appreciating art and design. The passion for craftsmanship and artisanal work is integral to her creative processes. Merging her three cultures; Norway, India and France together to create an emulsion of contemporary design. Having worked on an internship in Haiti led by Donna Karen in partnership with Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, she learned the relationship between designers and craftsmen. Working with materials such as leather, wood and more interior design based materials, she created pieces for Donna Karen’s Urban Zen Collection, alongside her other work.
“The unique quality of each piece in this collection is that they are one of a kind and have been approached the way an artist might use a canvas. I think that in fashion, between blinding trends and mass production, one often loses sight of fashion as a craft, a skill – especially textiles which have been so heavily digitised in the past years.”
Designers, such as Helena, are increasingly becoming aware of the relationship between quality of craftsmen. There are infinite possibilities in terms of colour layering (there is a fabric in the KHADI collection which has 14 layers done over the course of 8 days!). The fact that it is all in the hand and doesn’t rely on a very specific tool or machine also adds to the feeling that one can achieve anything in terms of print. The jewellery as well is entirely hand-done and focuses heavily on surface alteration through a variety of heating and hammering processes. She add’s that “anything is possible and although so far I have mainly been doing everything myself, I hope to find like-minded creatives to develop joint projects with in the future.”
Images courtesy of Helena Bajaj
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