Anjul bhandari's couture is every woman's dream woven in the classic and effortless embroideries of lucknow. Helmed as the master of creating heirlooms to be passed down generations, her creations are everything that define timeless & ageless elegance. The namesake of the label has always been recognized for her personal style, artistic decisiveness and her love for everything handpicked. A self taught artist, she has designed couture for more than 10 years but finally launched her label in 2012 with a focus on lucknowi hand embroideries. Years of research of the lucknawi chikankari and kamdani has resulted in her working with the master craftsmen of these techniques. Kamdani, a dying craft for years has gotten a facelift as a result of the couturier's efforts. Chikankari, originally embroidered using 32 unique tankas is now produced generically using only 4-5. Keeping tradition alive is the key philosophy of the label and we do so by employing 18 of these tankas. Ek taar is another such technique only a few are able to master. A saree is created in a little less than 2 years and we produce those on special request. The label anjul bhandari is focused on bringing back the old world glamour, romanticism and opulence associated with mughal culture. What started as a revolution to provide young women vocational training, has now produced more than 1500 skilled craftswomen and men, all creating for the label.
The second half of the 18th century saw the nawabs of awadh resettling to lucknow from the delhi court, where they gave credence to the legendary extravagances of oriental monarchies. The independence from delhi allowed them to shape their own aesthetic and style in redefining court splendor and royal patronage. Late 18th to middle 19th century lucknow attracted artists, artisans, musicians, chefs and literary figures, making lucknow a cultural hub and giving it the glowing reputation of defining class, taste and most notably arts.
Chikan and kamdani are two of the many embroideries that flourished in the spirit of wealth, sophistication & glamour. Chikan epitomizes the best and ultimate refinement of nawabi & lucknawi culture and its subtle beauty has popularized over the years. Kamdani on the other hand is a dying art. Initially embroidered with real gold & silver, it is now used as an ornamentation for chikan.
Origins of chikan have 2 narrative. One that of a princess, who out of boredom of her indolent lifestyle began to embroider a beautiful cap to attract the nawab's attention. Soon that sparked jealousy among other women and they all took up this embroidery which evolved over time.
The other is a male narrative that come from calcutta. It's the tale of a wandering saint who taught this fine craftsmanship to ustad mohammad shair khan, an ancestor of fiaz khan, the first recipient of the master craftsman award in the early 60's.