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Artisan made: the art of chikankari embroidery

Artisan made: the art of chikankari embroidery

For Autumn we have launched a range of new colours into our Lucknow Collection - a palette of warm navys, celestial blues and smart khakis - all on the softest cotton and embellished with traditional chikankari embroidery, a hand-embroidery technique from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh.

 Long-time readers will remember our visit to Lucknow back in October 2018, to meet the women's co-operative who embroider our collection - you can read about our trip here, and also our '24-hours in Lucknow travel guide' here.

In this week's blog I wanted to share more about the art and history of the chikankari technique that is used on our Lucknow Collection of dresses, tunics and trousers - it is a hertiage technique dating back centuries and is a textile art form that we are so proud to be keeping alive in our own small way through our latest collection.

Chikankari was traditionally a 'white on white' embroidery, using white thread to embellish light-weight white muslin fabric, or cotton. Hand stitched, the pattern can take many forms, often handed down from mother to daughter, or traditional to a single village. Motifs include paisleys, flowers and geometric patterns, with simple white thread and no further beading or mirrorwork adornment.

Through the centuries colours have gradually been introduced, but still traditionally kept to a single palette, so navy thread on navy cotton for example - like our new midnight blue maxi dress.

 Chikankari embroidery is used to embellish collars, lapels, yokes, hems and sleeves and is thought to have been brought to India from Persia under the two-century long Mughal rule. We showcase the most traditional heritage form of Lucknawi Chikankari in our Lucknow Collection - embroidered by female-run co-operatives in rural villages outside Lucknow. This work allows them to stay in their homes rather than travel into the city to find employment and work flexibly around their family life.

Each piece in the collection is entirely unique thanks to the hand-embroidered work that goes into each design - if you do purchase something from the collection I hope this gives you a little more insight into the magic and the heritage behind these special designs.

Browse the Lucknow Collection now

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