When northeast Indian weavers hit the fashion runway

Itanagar, Aug 20 (IANS) Weavers taking a bow in front of the shutterbugs after showcasing their creations at a fashion gala is a rarity. But that’s what happened at the second edition of the North East India Fashion Week (NEIFW) here.

The three-day fashion week began on Friday at this Arunachal Pradesh capital’s newly constructed multipurpose cultural centre. Reaching the venue was literally an uphill task, but some of the fashionionistas and supporters of the approximately 40 participants couldn’t care less.

Chakpu Anam, a weaver from Arunachal Pradesh, opened the gala with her loin loom collection.

Models, also from the northeast region, sashayed down the ramp in colourful ethnic sarongs with tops teamed up with jewellery made of coins or beads. There were knee-length and off-shoulder dresses in shades of purple and red. But the range was dominated by the popular combination – black and white.

“Black and white combination is commonly worn by the Nyishi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh,” Anam, who looked excited after presenting her collection at a fashion week for the first time, told IANS here.

Even the showstopper – actor Adil Hussain, the brand ambassador of NEIFW, sported a black shirt and black pants with a black and white stole that covered his chest. The beaded long neck piece and a handloom belt made the “Life of Pi” and “English Vinglish” actor from Assam look every inch a chic man.

The fashion week organisers have joined hands with animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India to promote its campaign against the imprisonment of animals in zoos.

So, the show also had two models, dressed in tiger-print outfits, being set free from cages by Adil.

Weaver Dimbeswary from Assam also presented an equally eye-appealing Bodo traditional outfits on the stage.

Mostly made of cotton and wool, the collection had dokhonas (the traditional dress of the Bodo women) in colours like orange, yellow and green. The floral embroidery on the outfits gave them a more feminine touch.

There was something for men as well. A male model was also seen in a lungi with a shirt on the ramp.

There was one more show by the weavers of Arunachal Pradesh. The show, about Dibang valley handloom, was presented by Tine Mena, the first lady climber from the northeast to scale Mount Everest.

The collection mostly had sarongs or skirts with crop tops in colours like green, pink, white and black.

Chief guest Bamang Felix, a member of Legislative Assembly, praised the event’s host and designer Yana Ngoba Chakpu, who hails from Arunachal Pradesh.

“It’s not a fashion week. It’s a weavers’ week. We recognise each other through the clothes we wear and so I salute the weavers who play a major role in giving us our identities,” he said.

Felix even announced to pay Rs 10 lakh for the event from the government of Arunachal Pradesh.

There is more that the state government plans to do for the weavers.

“We have already deciced to make a policy. It will be based on employment generation and the market. It will be revealed in a couple of months. We will begin from Arunachal… If groups from other states are interested, we can join hands,” Felix told IANS.

On the remaining days of the fashion week, there will be more shows presented by weavers including those from Karbi Anglong, Ziro and Dirang Basti.

(The writer is in Itanagar at the invitation of the fashion week’s organisers. Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at Natalia.n@ians.in)



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