Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” And for a lot of reasons, designer Anavila Misra, who has been making quite the fashionable waves, befits the quotation.
Born to a scientist and agriculturist father, and a mother who was a teacher and fine artist but chose to be a housewife, Anavila always had an interest in design that manifested in many ways through childhood. Brought up in Karnal, a small town in Har-yana, and Patna, the designer was into flower arrangements and wall decorations with natural flowers and materials collected from gardens and wild forest areas near her house as well as designing clothes for her dolls as a child. She learnt embroidery, knitting, sewing and painting at home, under her mother’s guidance.
The designer is a post-graduate in Knitwear Design from NIFT Delhi, and her first job was at Madura Garments where she worked as an assistant designer for the brand Louis Phillipe, primarily focusing on men’s formal and casual shirts as well as knitwear. In 2004, she began working on a craft cluster development project for NIFT in association with the Ministry of Rural Development. And between 2007 and 2010, she worked on small projects with weavers and artisans, creating products which could be showcased at exhibitions. In between, she took a few years’ break when her son was born, and it was only in 2010-11 that she began experimenting with the six-yard beauty. “Comfort was the last word anyone associated with a sari, which is considered a mark of virtuous femininity, and I wanted to break that mould to show the ease with which it can be worn,” says Anavila. “While I was discovering this long trail of cloth of one straight single length, with no zips or stitches, I thought to myself, what kind of sari would
I want to wear? That lead to the genesis of my journey with the sari.”
The designer is flying high these days and has increasingly become a rage despite creating languidly draped linen saris in trademark muted and hushed colour palette. She is one of the top go-to designers for B-wood biggies like Vidya Balan, Kalki Koechlin, Sonam Kapoor, Rani Mukerji, Deepti Naval, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kajol, Kiran Rao, Sonali Bendre, etc. “Appreciation in any form feels nice. I consider each one of my buyers as stars in their own universe,” she says.
Her saris appear simple and demure with minimum embellishments and restricted colour story but the price point of the garment is very competitive. How does a pure linen sari in shy muted tones hold up to a high price point, we probe? “The first sari that I did was for `12,000. The cost of pure linen plus the weaver’s labour/hard work along with the dying cost of the fabric all came out quite competitively when compared to other saris. Linen is a fine yarn and it is expensive. That’s a fact. It (the sari) might look casual because of the nature of the yarn and the way it falls on the body… but the kind of labour and skill that goes into making the sari matches to that of any other expensive sari.” She adds, “Having said that, it’s always up to the customer whether they want to wear the light and comfortable linen or choose a banarasi. It’s completely the consumer’s choice. But the cost is legitimate.”