Sabyasachi Designs Ajrakh Uniforms For Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School in Jaisalmer For A Very Special Social Project. We Love Fashion With A Purpose!
If I ever get married, it will probably not because I want to spend the rest of my life with a guy but because I want a reason to wear a Sabyasachi lehenga. Isn’t that the dream of every Indian girl to be dressed by Sabya? Well, here are some little school girls from Jaisalmer, Rajasthan who are already living our dream and they are not getting married to do it. The designer has curated ajrakh uniforms for the girls of Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School, Jaisalmer to support education of girls of Rajasthan and promote the craft heritage of the state.
Amid the splendid architecture and unmatched royalty that’s prominent in the state, Rajasthan’s cultural craft and rich textile is something that entirely stands out. Your visit to Rajasthan isn’t really complete until you get a lehariya dupatta or traditional tie-dye dupatta, bandhani saree or handmade juttis for yourself. The fashion markets are riot of beautiful textiles and handicrafts. The place is also the heartland of block printing technique, of which ajrakh is one of the archaic and unique art made with natural dyes.
American artist Michael Daube, who works for economic development and education by empowering under-privileged and mariginalised communities through his non-profit organisation CITTA saw an opportunity to bring the textile and education together upon his latest visit to Jaisalmer. He set up The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girl’s School and Women’s Center in order to help the craftspeople, especially women involved in the ajrakh textiles and to aid girl’s education in Jaisalmer. He roped in Indian designer Sabyasachi to create beautiful frock-like uniforms in blue and red. It is the first fashion label to make school uniforms and that too for such a special social purpose.
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The school that can educate around 400 girls is all set to commence from December this year, after being delayed for months due to the nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus crisis. The school will also serve as a training centre for women providing an opportunity to the mothers of students to get training in traditional crafts techniques of the region like ajrakh. Daube told Vogue India, “I feel ajrakh has just been recently re-discovered by fashion and will eventually make its way into the pantheon of internationally respected textiles alongside batik and ikat. The long history and use of natural cotton printed with indigo and madder root colours make it very appealing.”
Sabyasachi was honoured to have been a part of such a project that will help empowering women excel in their crafts while simultaneously educating their girl children. He shared on his Instagram account, “I have always believed in the transformative power of education, Its impact ripples outwards and upwards, from an individual level to society-at-large. Especially dear to me are initaiatives that focus their resources on educating girls—the demographic most limited in access to opportunity and most stifled by archaic social expectations. So when Michael Daube from Citta approached me to design school uniforms for the Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School in Jaisalmer, I was thrilled.”
The uniform features two piece set of a flared kurta with ajrakh print and front button opening and leggings-like pants that girls can be comfortable in. This is a contemporary twist to the traditional salwar kurta uniform that most schools adhere to India. What’s great is that this project not only aids access of education to girls and provides formal training to craftswomen but also helps promote local art through these uniforms.
School uniforms reflecting Indian art could really help edify children and the society at large about the local crafts and the importance of supporting the artisans and craftsmanship in India. We have such a rich heritage of textile and crafts but still most artisans struggle to take their expertise to the contemporary markets and survive due to the thriving competition and the recent obsession with fast fashion and international clothing brands. These uniforms and the training centre could help keep the traditional arts like ajarkh alive.
Also, I hated my uniform and would have loved to wear these gorgeous ajrakh uniforms if I were in school now. Rude that my school expected me to show up in a non-designer, boring uniform that didn’t promote Indian art but okay. At least, these girls are getting an education clad in Sabyasachi.