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To discredit any designer is unfair: K. Radharaman

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Deepika Padukone in Angadi Gallerie. by .
Deepika Padukone in Angadi Gallerie.

The only difference between him and other designers right now is that his private label Advaya has been low profile despite being launched nearly 8 years ago…writes Nivedita

Deepika Padukone in Angadi Gallerie. by .
Deepika Padukone in Angadi Gallerie.

However, when actress Deepika Padukone chose to opt for saris for her wedding revelry from K. Radharaman, it gave a new spotlight to his design label wnd his Bengaluru-based Angadi Galleria.

Radharaman, whose illustrious family has been in the art of woven work since the past 600 years, says he has no hard feelings against ace designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who had initially failed to mention that both saris worn by Deepika Padukone — one for her Konkani wedding, and another for her Bengaluru reception — were designed by Radharaman.

However, he felt obligated to speak up against the erroneous credit on behalf of the entire design community.

“I do not and never did have any intention of being critical of Sabyasachi Mukherjee or anyone else. I do not have any negative sentiment towards anyone and we did thank him publicly on social media for giving credit to us after we pointed the error to him,” he said.

“That said, when I was informed that another design label had claimed credit for my work, I felt obligated to speak up on behalf of the entire design community of which we are all a part of,” Radharaman told IANS in an e-mail interview when asked about his intial reaction when he got to know that the ace designer took credit for Deepika’s Konkani wedding look.

Asked if he thinks ‘popular’ Indian designers have an edge over textile experts like him who are investing their life and time in promoting Indian design and craft, Radharaman said: “I am as much a designer as any other designer, the major difference being is that I am low profile, and have not yet publicised the work under my private label Advaya, though it has been in existence since 2010.

“I also own retail brands that are distinct from my design label and unfortunately the difference between retail brands and designer labels is not yet fully understood here as it has been in the West.”

Radharaman calls himself primarily a textile designer.

“My role is to design and engineer textiles, and in this case, the sari. A textile designer has to conceive the look and appearance of the fabric before a single thread is in place. Hence, to discredit a designer for his or her work is simply put, unfair,” he added.

Expressing himself passionately about textile designing, Radharaman added: “In the case of a sari, which is primarily an uncut garment, the design intervention can happen in the form of the construction, yarn, technique of weaving, motifs, colour, embellishments, if any, and of course, the overall sensibility of the design. Without these distinguishing features, the sari would remain a plain piece of cloth,” he said.

“Why would any customer choose to buy a particular piece instead of another if not for the distinction in design, colour, texture, motif, drape?” he stated.

He feels the role of any textile designer is like that of an architect who thinks of a building’s design, the materials to use and how to construct the building (structural design) even before a single brick is in place.

“Are architects not credited with the design of their structures? A few designers have continued to enjoy the monopoly on media attention till date and I hope the situation will change,” he added.

Deepika chose to celebrate her special wedding day and Bengaluru reception in an Advaya Kanjeevaram sari.

Both wedding and reception saris, in pure zari, were designed by Radharaman under the label ‘Advaya’ from The House of Angadi.

So why has The House of Angadi and Angadi Galleria kept such a low profile during the entire wedding and Bengaluru reception?

“We understand the need for keeping purchases made by VIPs and celebrities discreet. We respect the privacy of our customers and sometimes have to be mindful of their commercial associations (past and present) with other brands which sometimes prevent them from disclosing the identity of the designer from whom they choose a garment,” he said.

“Many celebrities, apart from Deepika, have bought Advaya saris from The House of Angadi. My family has been in the trade for 600 years – and began as court weavers to several royal families. My father has had the privilege of having several of his creations worn by great personalities including former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Maharani Gayatri Devi, Nargis Dutt among others,” Radharaman said.

“Besides, in this instance, you would appreciate that choosing a wedding sari is a deeply private affair and we chose to respect this fact,” he added.

Radharaman said the saris selected for Deepika’s wedding was a joint decision by her and her family members.

“Deepika was personally present and tried out the saris before her family and she completed the purchase. The design in question was not customised for Deepika, but is among the rarest and most exclusive of designs,” he said, adding that the Padukones are among their old clients.