Anavila Misra is the first designer to explore the fabric’s malleability in the six-yard form. The result is saris that flare softly with every stride and seem to take the shape of the wearer rather than stand stiffly apart. “We think we need to be ‘proper’ in a sari,” said Misra in an interview with ELLE India, “I wanted to break that mould to show the ease with which it can be worn.”" />

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Anavila Misra

Breeze through summer

Breeze through summer


Delicious linens and delicate details in Anavila Misra’s spring collection at Ogaan

If the punishing heat is putting you off saris altogether, consider switching to linen. Anavila Misra is the first designer to explore the fabric’s malleability in the six-yard form. The result is saris that flare softly with every stride and seem to take the shape of the wearer rather than stand stiffly apart. “We think we need to be ‘proper’ in a sari,” said Misra in an interview with ELLE India, “I wanted to break that mould to show the ease with which it can be worn.”

The designer’s spring collection, currently available at Ogaan, was inspired by her walk to work every day. She noticed that every house, not matter how small, made place for a patch of green even in this crowded Mumbai suburb. “This image of the greens and flowers blooming in the midst of all the concrete was what inspired this line. The palette is water colour-like and the fabric is very breathable.”

Anavila saris are created out of a weave made especially for the brand. Till Misra entered the scene, she said, “Nobody had tried to make a pure linen sari, because it’s a tricky yarn to handle, with its long staple length that breaks easily when it’s dry.” But a few weavers in Phulia, West Bengal were keen to work with her to create a more pliable fabric. The label’s aesthetic was in place right from the first batch of 15 saris. The designer described the typical Anavila sari as “very basic, organic linen in natural or indigo tones, with contrast selvedge and geometric, grid-like patterns.”

“I love the raw, the unkempt, the organic, and the grainy texture you can only get from linen,” said Misra of her main muse. And she’s not the only one. Actors like Rani Mukerji, Kajol, Konkona Sen Sharma, Dia Mirza and Vidya Balan have been seen in Anavila saris, and in over four years of the label’s existence, it has collected quite a fan base. It’s thanks to them that Misra was finally convinced to design garments. Her line now includes kurtas and pants in the same pared-down, earthy style. “I’m keeping the silhouettes very simple, so the fabric does all the talking. There’s always going to be commercial pressures, but I want everything I create to stay true to Anavila’s basic sensibilities.”

Anavila is Sanskrit for pure and Misra is keen on keeping her creations that way. “I’d like to do something in the luxury space next. I’d like to redefine the category by focusing on simplicity rather than say, embellishments.”

If you’re tempted to pick up an Anavila sari —we don’t blame you, their textures are delectable—make sure to get a lot of wear out of it. As the designer puts it, a sari you wear just once a month is not really your sari. “My inspiration for the drapes I send out on the ramp always comes from women who go to work in their saris, like my maid or fisherwomen or farmers. Each drapes the sari in her own way to suit her daily life. And that’s how it should be.”