Silk is a natural fibre and was amongst the earliest fibres discovered by man with others being wool, hemp, linen and cotton. Silk is a fibroin made of proteins secreted in the fluid state as single filament by a caterpillar, popularly known as ‘silkworm’. These silkworms feed on the selected food plants and spin cocoons as a ‘protective shell’ to perpetuate the life. Silkworm has four stages in its life cycle viz., egg, silkworm, pupa and moth. Man interferes this life cycle at the cocoon stage to obtain the silk, a continuous filament of commercial importance, used in weaving of the dream fabric silk- perfect for every occasion.
Among all fabrics available silk is the most expensive and rich. It is still and has been in latest fashion trends since ever. It is known and used in all countries irrespective of the culture and dressing sense. Silk may vary from region to region, name might be different but the main component of the fabric that is silk fibres is unchanged and maintains the elegance throughout ages and style.
It is the finest fabrics in the world. Embroidery done using the silk thread was an ancient Chinese art, but is now rampant all over the world, particularly India.
The detailing in the embroidery and needle, which produces intricate images are solely the traditional features and stories of the kings and queens of that era. Similarly, in India, Silk embroidery was patronized by the Mughals and Royal Kings, and was heavily adorned on their robes or long dresses. After China, India became the second home for Silk production.
Fabrics and costumes with silk embroidery are worn extensively in the south East Asian countries especially India, China, Japan and Korea. They define the fashion trends for women and men. This embroidery is used on clothing like evening dresses or the traditional outfits. Silk embroidered scarves, shawls and ribbons are used worldwide with various outfits as Accessories. In India, silk embroidery has its own standing. A lot of traditional Indian outfits are inspired and fabricated with silk embroidery and are then worn by women all over the world.
Embroideries like Chikankari uses a white thread embroidered on soothing pastels to coloured silk threads
It was traditionally practised by rural women, it was done on soft dhotis and sarees, with a simple running stitch along the edges ranging from silk to cotton threads. Interestingly, the thread used to do that was drawn from the border threads of the used cloth.
It also uses purely silk threads to form geometrical shapes on the cloth, Kashidakari (unique feature being Kashmiri tea pot) known for its simple chain stitches, this embroidery is done mostly on silk and wool.
Several other embroidery types are found to be used all over India and in other parts of the world apart from the ones mentioned above. Ribbon embroidery is one type of embroidery that is done on a fabric with silk ribbons. Dating back to the 1700s, silk ribbon embroidery shows up on embellished clothing, home decor items, quilts and more.
Work On Silk Textile
Other than silk embroideries, there are other forms of work done on a silk textile like printing, dyeing, weaving etc. Heard about Banarasi Silk Saris? They’re known for gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery.
The saari is decorated with beautiful design inspired by Mughal, floral and minakari work. Another form, Chanderi -a beautiful blend of Cotton, Silk thread and zari results to Chanderi fabric. Traditional looms are used as a primary means of production.
Printed silk is a more contemporary form of stylizing silk and offers many benefits to the contemporary buyer in the form of cost-effectiveness (if machine printed) and versatility. In India, it has picked up in popularity since around the 2010s. The prints and motifs used in such manner have seen a lot of influence from pop-culture, modern art and Bollywood.
Designers making silk clothing
In India itself, fashion designers are reviving the age old craft into mainstream fashion and weaving history into the new age. Here we talk about a couple of designers working with silk fabrics and clothing:
There are some designers who have been working with silk since their inception. Renowned designers like Ritu Kumar draws upon art history background to create clothing. By using ancient designs and traditional crafts and prefers to work with fabrics like silk, cotton and leather. They create latest trends in fashion.
David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore work a lot with saris and kurtis, making them sustainable ready-to-wear and couture wear. Sabyasachi Mukherjee pioneered the use of Indian textiles in a modern context where he uses silk in its pure unaged luxury. Other designers like Anita Dongre, Rohit Bal, Manish Malhotra, Gaurang Shah, Neeta Lulla, Wendell Rodricks also use the very textile in the purest and unadulterated form possible
Relaxed Day out
A bold red lipstick with a flowy foot length white silk dress can make you look super sexy and different. You can go for frilly sleeves and a bright sling bag which will add temptation to your simple yet stylish silk attire.
Silk is perfect for you or your friend’s wedding as it gives the bride more of a royal and luxurious look. Silk looks quite charming in bright and dark shades like red and hot pink. If the wedding is going to take place at night. Pair it up with heavy jewelry and it will seem just perfect.
Printed kaftans have been trending since the festival season. A printed simple peach puff kaftan with tassel earrings and space buns is great in summers.
Silk tops and shirts are super amazing. Let it be straight or flared, silk tops can make any ensemble look classy. A peplum style silk top with net embellishments around the neckline can be worn with denim skinny jeans and block heels.
From the IKF Desk
Silk has been present for generations and is the most worn after cotton. It exudes luxury and class and can be paired with almost anything and still look chic. The making of silk and different techniques of work done on silk takes years of practice and should be preserved.