Interview with Fashion Designer Anavila Misra

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Anavila Misra popularly known for her minimalistic sensibilities and linen saris has just launched ‘First Blush’, her take on festive wear.

Anavila Misra did a course in Knitwear Design from NIFT Delhi and graduated in the year 2000. Her first job was as Assistant Designer for the brand Louis Phillipe at Madura Garments where she worked. In 2004, she began working on a craft cluster development project for NIFT in association with the Ministry of Rural Development. She believes in organic materials that are soft and comfortable on the body. Her linen saris are gorgeous and wonderfully simple and it is her trademark hand-woven linen that ensures that they drape beautifully. Anavila’s saris have been worn by a plethora of celebrities including the likes of Dia Mirza, Kiran Rao, Kajol, Sonali Bendre and Nandita Das. She is now getting into her festive line and Good Earth has exclusively launched Anavila Misra’s festive collection in four cities Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. Anavila Misra’s signature, elegant linen saris made by women weavers in Jharkhand in muted colours has many takers across the country. This time, the label’s festive collection “First Blush” exclusively debuting at Good Earth. This is a collection of techniques like printing, Khatwa and pleating that gives subtle yet beautiful textures to the flowy silhouettes, in a beautiful palette of vermilion, cinnamons and soft hues of cardamom. She tells us more about her journey in this exclusive tête-à-tête.

First Blush by Anavila
First Blush by Anavila

Tell us something about your early years, education and career. How did you veer towards fashion? When did you realise it was your calling?

Design and textiles have always been something I had been interested in from early childhood.  My sister and I used to play dress-up, for which my mother generously lent us her saris. I always had a keen interest in design which manifested in many ways through my childhood. I used to design clothes for myself and my dolls. Under the guidance of my mother, I learnt embroidery, knitting, sewing and painting at home. And my father’s love for everything natural, our well-kept garden and kitchen gardens has had a strong role to play in my love for nature, and all things raw and organic. So choosing my path was quite easy, thanks to the support and encouragement I got at home. After finishing my undergraduate Diploma in Business Management, I did my post-graduation in knitwear design from NIFT Delhi and graduated in 2000. I worked for corporates like Madura Garments and ITC as an Assistant Designer and then began working on a craft cluster development project in 2004 for NIFT in association with the Ministry of Rural Development. During this time, I travelled the length and breadth of these rural craft clusters and that’s when I saw the immense possibility they held. I feel the BBA Hons gave me a base to organize my work in a certain way and a firm grounding on how to look at the business side of things. It helped me structure and plan my time and work. We even created a brand and store under the project.

You are known for your minimalist sensibilities and linen saris. Please explain more especially on the choice of linen.

In the beginning of my journey as a designer I worked on menswear brands and a lot with linen textiles, raw luxury of this yarn stayed with me and was a natural choice when I started creating my own design language.

First Blush by Anavila
First Blush by Anavila

Tell us about First Blush and what makes it unique?

As the name suggests it is the first step into celebration, romantic and soft. For this collection, the silhouettes are comfortable but very chic. This season also features a unique play of colours and patterns to pick up on. We have experimented with some unusual colour combinations, stark solid contrasts, different hues of the same colour that are coming together, and variating stripes. These elements will be sure to add a vibrant addition to your wardrobe.

What kind of materials do you like to work with and why?

I mostly work with linen because of its natural properties, comfort and raw elegance. In our new collection we have used linen and silk, embellished with delicate zari embroidery and signature Khatwa applique.

How do you choose the colour palette for your collections?

For our Festive 2019 collection, we wanted to incorporate a colour palette of subtle and bright colours. The range has been carefully chosen keeping in mind the tones and hues that complement the Indian complexion. Not only is it complimentary to Indian women’s skin tone, but they also are well associated with festivities and celebration. We want to introduce colour palettes that are appropriate for the season and create a fresh line of quintessential Anavila designs with a simple yet bold twist.

First Blush by Anavila
First Blush by Anavila

What are the new fashion trends that you see for the rest of the year?

I see comfort taking center stage of our clothing choices this year.

How relevant is the sari as a garment today?

Sari is and will always be relevant because of its versatility, grace and unlimited possibilities to express oneself. If you see the rough the length and width of our country it has developed and evolved in various ways to suite the lifestyle options. And with relevant design options, it is becoming more and more popular in the cities again.

Who or what inspires you?

Travel, of course, has always been a huge source of inspiration for me. I travelled across the rural clusters of the country, meeting artisans, spending time with them and going through their product cycles and processes. It gave a different perspective to my understanding of the Made in India, handmade and handcrafted methods and opened up my mind to the immense possibilities of working with Indian textiles. The inspiration for my previous collection – SS’19 came from the culturally rich, aesthetically strong and naturally beautiful Sa Pa region of Vietnam. Their lifestyle, natural environment, and inherent love for textile art formed the base of my work.

What are your future plans?

We are currently working on new developments for our next exciting spring summer collection 2020.

Tell us about your association with Good Earth

We have been closely associated with Good Earth for the last few years. I feel our design sensibilities which are rooted in Indian culture and ever evolving match at so many levels. We launched our festive line in association with Good Earth every season with a travelling showcase.

This story first appeared in Apparel August 2019 issue here

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