Artisan made: the art of chikankari embroidery

Traditional chikankari embroidery, a hand-embroidery technique from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, proudly embellishes our edit of summer dresses and tunics - learn more about the heritage technique and the female artisans behind our bestselling summer dress...

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 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, like our white on white maxi dress for example.

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 designs - 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.

Read some of our customer reviews for our chikankari dresses:

Review by Pauline F. on 29 Jul 2020
Perfect summer dress
I just love this beautiful boho dress in white It looks gorgeous so gorgeous i have also bought the blue one. It feels so good knowing i am helping to support a artisan industry. So pleased i found Dilli Grey thank you.
Review by Ama S. on 25 May 2021
Ethereal Fabrics and Dreamy Dresses
The fabric was so ethereal and dreamlike, I’ve never felt anything so soft. I loved the dress so much, it’s buttery texture was very tender and dreamy to wear.
Review by Priscilla S. on 24 Feb 2021
This dress is even more beautiful than what it looks on the website!
It is comfortable and elegant. I absolutely love the intricate embroidery. Cannot wait to wear it in the spring and summer!! Love love love it!

1 comment

  • Ananya

    Its an incredible craft coming from our country and we should be proud of it, you are doing a good job promoting it and your collection is also good, keep on doing the good work.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.