Koli Culture Goes the Haute Way

Long before Bandra was christened 'Queen of the Suburbs' for its throbbing social life, it was an assortment of hamlets or pakhadis (villages) inhabited by fishermen and farmers. Over the decades, the wave of urbanisation has made it more popular among the city's youth even as its bucolic village pockets seemed to have faded away from the public consciousness.

This weekend, a two-day pop-up fashion event in Bandra attempts to bring back the memories of it albeit in a unique way. Titled 'A Weekend at the Wharf' and organised by the concept store Bungalow 8, this pop-up will feature specially-created collections of clothing, accessories and home furnishings that have been inspired by the fishing villages of Bandra. It will be hosted at Last Ship, an artist residency located in Bandra's Chuim village, on February 23 and 24. Maithili Ahluwalia, creative director, Bungalow 8, points out that this line has adapted a local theme to make it more relatable to the residents of Bandra. "The idea is to not exoticise the fishing folk, rather to take a cue from their culture and clothing sense and to contemporarise it," she says.

The store's head designer, Mathieu Gugumus-Leguillon, says that the clothing line is based on his observations. "My studio is located in the Chuim village, which gave me the opportunity to observe the attire and the lifestyle of the local Kolis, both fishermen and women. I wanted to celebrate it through my work. So, I have featured the men's lungi and the women's sari in a new avatar," he says. He explains that while chequered and striped lungis have been used to make loose, free-flowing dresses, skirts have been fashioned out of bright and colourful (read: pink, orange and indigo) saris that are typical of the fisherwomen.

The jewellery offerings too, have drawn from the local story. Jewellery designer Jamini Ahluwalia has used shells, pebbles and threads. "The overall look is rustic and the threads are reminiscent of the fisherwomen's saris," she says. Accessory designer Olivia Dar's beaded necklaces and cuffs, inspired by Koli borders, are also part of the event. In a bid to reach out to locals, the store has roped in known Bandra names such as musician and actress Monica Dogra, actress Giseli Monteiro, and entreprenuers Aparna Badlani and Misha Singhani, to name a few to model its creations. Dogra says that she is involved in this project to lend support to the people who form the city's creative fraternity.

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