Aug - Sep 2008
Filled with memories and inspiration from our trip to India, the design phase began in New York, primarily in Stephen's studio. After an intense 2 - 3 month design process, quite a few iterations, we were ready for the next phase of Rajboori - Sample Development. This would be the phase where we put the skills of the weavers and the artisans to the test as our designs were by no means - SIMPLE.
True to what Style Noir says in their blog (http://stylenoir.blogspot.com/2009/01/stephen-burks-eco-silks.html), Stephen is noted for "his seamless integration of classic handcrafts and modern aesthetics". Our debut collection would be a luxurious blend of contemporary design and age-old techniques and craftsmanship.
Given the highly technical nature of the designs and the intricate details involved, I decided to travel to India one more time, to personally oversee and manage the sample development process. Our goal was to have the first iteration ready by September so that we could apply for the NYIGF Winter 2009 show to launch Rajboori.
Monsoon season was in full swing in the Eastern part of India but that didn't deter me from diving right in to the process. Armed with my design folder and Vancouver-proven rain boots, I arrived in Calcutta in Aug. The cool nights and balmy days reminded me of my childhood spent in this bustling metropolis where the Rajboori organic silk collection would take shape.
First, I made a short trip to the village, where I documented the weaving process and captured the moments through photographs. The unique and extremely geometric jacquard pattern was woven in looms with 10 paddles, that had to be monitored by two people constantly so that the weave would be done in the exact shape and size. Such intricate weaving technique is known only to a few master weavers, whose skills are preserved exclusively within their families.
The dual tones in the diamond shaped patterns were even more difficult to weave but when they were done, the final effect was much, much better than what I had imagined it would be. The women of the house also get involved in the whole process where they make the bobbins that go into the looms in which the fabrics are woven.
It's pretty amazing to see a concept design come to life right before your eye, step by step. In our case, the initial steps was long but the end result was worth the wait.