How Mumbai-based atelier Chanakya International ended up being a force to consider in haute couture

Mumbai-based atelier Chanakya International has actually ended up being a force in haute couture. Christian Dior’s current Pre-Fall program was simply the current presentation of this

‘ Dior goes to India’, ‘Dior’s Entrance to India’, and ‘Dior Commemorates Indian Craftsmens’ were simply a few of the headings that sprinkled throughout global news outlets previously this year, when French maison Christian Dior showcased its Pre-Fall collection at Mumbai’s renowned Entrance of India. Making it all possible was Karishma Swali, the Handling and Creative Director of Mumbai-based atelier Chanakya International and the Chanakya School of Craft, which specialises in embroidery and craft that decorates global haute couture.

Swali’s dad, Vinod Shah, established Chanakya in 1986 with 22 master craftsmens to share India’s finest workmanship and artisanal tradition with the world, and she signed up with the household business 26 years earlier. Today, Chanakya’s customer list consists of a few of the greatest names in high-end. Apart from Dior, there’s Fendi, Prada, Valentino, Celine, and Saint Laurent. The atelier’s relationship with Dior itself returns to 2016, when Maria Grazia Chiuri took control of as the French brand name’s Creative Director. “We work thoroughly with numerous customers in both the LVMH and Kering groups,” states Swali.

It was throughout an internship at Italian high-end brand name Alberta Ferretti in the mid-1990s that Swali understood the value of handicrafts. “The Italians are so happy with it. If a shoe upper is being moulded by hand, they resemble, you understand it’s handmade. In India, whatever is handmade. It is a lot a part of us that in some cases we do not understand how valuable it is,” states Swali. “My one year in Italy actually made an impression, and I understood that I wished to invest my time checking out craft and add to making it a worldwide language,” she includes.

Today, Chanakya has more than 1,000 master craftsmens and is a name to be considered in the couture area worldwide. For the Dior program, besides the embroidery on all the runway looks, Chanakya developed a 46-foot embroidered setup, or a toran, which took 382 craftspeople over 6 months.

Broadening Reach

With the Dior reveal out of the method, Swali is focussed now on broadening the reach of the Chanakya School of Craft, which she co-founded with Chiuri in 2016 to train more craftsmens in Indian crafts and methods. She is especially crazy about assisting ladies end up being master craftsmens. “Generationally, in India, craft is taught just from dad to child. And although it is the 2nd biggest economy, it has actually never ever been institutionalised,” states Swali.


Karishma Swali,
Handling and Creative Director,
Chanakya International and the Chanakya School of Craft

It was Chiuri who mentioned that in all the years she had actually concerned Chanakya (she began going to in the mid-1990s) all the craftsmens were guys. “The concept originated from her, and we chose to commit the school to ladies,” states Swali.

Presently, the school (where no cost is charged; an honorarium is offered to the trainees) has an 18-month program that incorporates craft and style to equip its trainees with both technical and style knowledge. It prepares them to sign up with the market or end up being business owners. It began with simply 8 trainees who needed to be encouraged into signing up with, now teaches over 100 in each batch.

Swali and Chiuri have actually understood each other for almost 3 years. “There was an instant connection as she originates from Solento, Italy, a location well-known for its artisanal traditions. We bonded over how craft is a concrete method to show our heritage,” states Swali. Ever since, they have actually been interacting. “It’s been an exceptionally satisfying journey where we have actually comprehended how internationally these neighborhoods require to be acknowledged, maintained, and commemorated,” states Swali.

Chanakya’s customer list consists of a few of the greatest names in high-end. Apart from Dior, there’s Fendi, Prada, Valentino, Celine, and Saint Laurent

Blurring borders

Chanakya mainly operates in 3 verticals. There is an area for art where it participates in creative partnerships with various artists all over the world. It deals with artists such as New York-based painter Mickalene Thomas, French artist Eva Jospin, and the New Delhi-based Parekhs. “What we do together is blur the lines in between craft and art to develop a brand-new language jointly that commemorates craft quality,” states Swali. As part of the Dior program, a public exhibit of 22 massive fabric art work by Manu and Madhvi Parekh called ‘Mul Mathi: From The Roots’, in cooperation with Chanakya was placed on display screen.

Then it deals with global maisons and uses them a collection of crafts. There is the structure and the school, which is the education vertical. Swali states they are preparing to consolidate universities abroad and use a course in craft.

As a policy, Chanakya does not handle numerous customers. “We deal with a couple of, however they’re really close collaborations, where we nearly solely create their craft requirements,” states Swali. It works both methods. In some cases brand names provide a state of mind board and they work appropriately, or provide a brand-new pill of research study methods that then enter into the collection.

She states the good idea about global partnerships is that Chanakya works method advance. Generally, she works 3 seasons beforehand– presently, she is dealing with Autumn/Winter 24/25. “So it provides us adequate time to provide a brand-new collection and to start dealing with models.” Because retail is really organised worldwide, brand names collect orders and send them to Chanakya. “So the entire procedure is really sustainable as it is all made to purchase,” discusses Swali.

She states among the greatest modifications internationally over the previous couple of years is that there is more awareness now. “Previously, it was regular to commemorate something like fur. Now there is a deepened sense of awareness, where high-end is ending up being far more purpose-led. And, fortunately, consumers are more familiar with the consequences of their options.”

As Swali continues to deal with international high-end brand names, she is exceptionally mindful of quality. “Our quality tolerances are one millimetre, the greatest requirement of craft. All our affiliates are accredited internationally for quality management systems. We are not just as much as international requirements, however we are likewise setting requirements internationally,” she states. Considering its remarkable customer list, others, too, appear really familiar with that quality.


UI Designer : Pankaj Negi
Innovative Manufacturer : Raj Verma
Videos : Mohsin Shaikh

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