FASHIONED BY REBELLION
After my fashion design dreams were squashed by a conservative, worried father who didn’t believe that my career choice would ever pay my bills, I pursued business management and took my place in the grind of the corporate workforce.
It took several years for me to find a way out, but the moment sneaked up on me, surely but quietly. I was accompanying a friend to her job interview for a position at Stella McCartney and ended up being interviewed too, mostly because I was bored waiting at the reception. That day I learnt that most things in life could be achieved by curiosity, common sense, practice and pig-headedness – I know my dad will vouch for that last one.
I spent my teenage years fighting and rebelling against everything I grew up around – even fashion – only to find it pulling me closer and closer every day. Indian handlooms, drapes, textiles, embroidery, jewellery – everything inspires me now.
I am drawn to cultures, stories, poetry, nostalgia and individuality. Old crafts and techniques fascinate me. You can find me in little towns, narrow streets hunting for vintage treasures around the country.
I also exclusively style projects close to my heart, because fashion to me is an individual expression. I play by no rules and love what I do.
TRYST WITH JEWELLERY
My love for jewellery isn’t a secret, and has never been. My husband calls it my paraphernalia, friends call my bangles and bracelets my armour, my son wants jewellery of his own even though he’s just seven.
Though, like many (most) women, I’ve always loved interesting jewellery and clothes, I was never comfortable with saving to buy expensive things, only to be scared to wear them for fear of losing them. So, I’ve always cared more about the design of jewellery than the raw materials. I can happily wear shells, wood, glass, and even plastic if the design is unique and well-finished.
But, for someone who always has her eyes open for unusual trinkets, it’s been very difficult to find exquisitely designed yet affordable jewellery. I’ve spent hours in gold shops trying to convince the owner to make my design of choice in silver or brass, only to receive a stern “no, we don’t do that kind of work” as though it was below them – I never understood it.
As a teenager, my mother would never let me buy polki or uncut diamonds beyond a certain value, as she, like many others in this country, believed that jewellery should have a resale value. This only added fuel to my constant state of rebellion, making me yearn for beautifully designed polki aads, raani haars, tikkas, naaths, kangans, and matha pattis.
In the same vein, I’ve always liked things handmade, where I can share a personal connection with the karigars, including their family, their kids, their homes, their methods of working, and so on. There’s a personal joy in knowing that your jewellery had a hand in giving its maker a better standard of life, saving them from profiting middlemen and big business houses.
I think I learned this from my parents. They were always very careful with money, but whatever they did buy was impeccably made and maintained, and usually bought from the source. My Mum would plan and wait for months to travel to Mysore to get her Mysore silks, and Orissa to get her ikats. They’d take me along to the weaving clusters in Assam where they would shop like experts, bringing home the most exquisite and unusual things, some of which were passed down to me.
While there’s a dire need for the country’s art and crafts ecosystem to improve with fair pay and more affordable designs which go out into the world, I’m proud of India’s rich heritage of jewellery and touched by how unassuming these craftsmen are.
Dressing up should be fun. It should be when you put on your music, pour a glass of something and enjoy the experience, flowing to where it takes you, very much like the ancient shringar – a norm, not an occasion. I dress for work like I dress for a holiday – seeking comfort, but full of joy and fun.
Why should jewellery as we know it only be worn in the evenings and on holidays? Why should it be stored in drawers and bank lockers, only emerging for an ‘occasion’? What’s the point of a diamond necklace if you can’t wear it all the time?
At the end of the day, clothes and jewellery are just stuff. They shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to own.
Walking down the narrow streets of some tucked-in, touristy towns in Spain – Girona, Seville, Barcelona, and the bustling streets of Portobello in London – I realised most of the things I was drawn to were ‘Made in India’.
Fabulous gold plated silver jewellery, with and without semi-precious stones, stunning chikankari embroidery on silk kurtas, colourful batik kaftans, tie-dye and ikat robes, kolhapuris, mirror-work bags from Jaipur, totes embroidered with Suzani work.
In one memorable instance, I even found a quintessentially Indian, big, beautiful vegetable bag remodelled into a chic oversized tote that I use all the time (and always have people on the street stop me to ask for details).
I was struck by how all these beautiful things made in my own country were available to me abroad, but were impossible for me to find back home. It was simply unfair.
For me, anumerton.com is a way to bring the wear and shine of real India to you.
All those bijoux and apparel you’ve had a hard time finding, sourcing or customizing. This is my way of showcasing our art and craft by patronizing them, wearing them in a myriad of looks, and taking them out into the world every day.
I’ve discovered many rare, fun things on my travels and at work, and have established a network to get them remade with tweaks. I have pieces found in history, culture, textile books and replicated with design interventions of my own to make them contemporary and wearable. This is a place where you can find all of those things.
To put it simply, this is everything I love to wear, and I want you to discover the joy of wearing.
How did I bring my love of pretty things to life despite being painfully shy? It’s thanks to my husband, who claims he steered this ship in the pursuit of becoming a househusband someday…
WHERE IS MY JEWELLERY MADE?
My jewellery is made in different places – Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bangalore, where I am based out of, and Patna, my hometown.
Jaipur historically had and still has some of the best karigars and semi-precious stone markets in the world. Their enamel work is unmatched, and the city is famous for making jewellery for generations of Indian royalty.
My karigars in Patna, a city with its roots in craftsmanship, are either from Bengal, well-known for its filigree work, or Lucknow (Awadh).
Between them, I’m able to create jewellery that’s a unique marriage between traditional craft and my own touch of a modern aesthetic.
WHERE ARE MY CLOTHES MADE?
My wardrobe, like my jewellery, comes from different parts of India. My fabrics are sourced from Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Jaipur, Patna, Kochi, and Bangalore. They’re embroidered in Patna, sometimes in Bangalore, Kochin or Kolkata. Finally, they’re tailored under my personal supervision in Bangalore.