Twenty years after he founded The House of Angadi, which has its roots in an enviable family legacy of over 600 years in Kanjivaram weaving, KH Radharaman wanted to do something more. He felt the need to explore and contemporise India’s vast wealth of textile techniques and perhaps, reinvent their design language to suit a global aesthetic.
With the launch of Angadi’s ready-to-wear label, Alamelu, he has done just that. The new brand breaks some preconceived notions regarding fashion sensibilities, while catering to the well-travelled and design-oriented connoisseur.
The premier collection—Architexture—introduces a new design vocabulary comprising modern silhouettes that have been engineered for effortless elegance, crafted in the finest silk both woven by hand and on cutting-edge mechanised looms. With this, Radharaman, who is also the brand’s Creative Director, brings two decades of expertise together to create a brand which is region-agnostic, timeless and seasonless.
“The hero of the collection,” he points out, “is ikat”. I have explored its amazing versatility through patterns ranging from the classic Houndstooth to jewel-like Uzbeki motifs and polka dots reminiscent of Yayoi Kusama’s work, all woven by hand in the most luxurious silk. The same silk is also woven on our textile machinery into three-dimensional, textured textiles that are light as air, and play with light to create the illusion of ripples of water.”
He says he chose ikat for both emotional and practical reasons. “My family and I have a lifelong relationship with ikat, as does India. It is also the one technique that crosses all geographical boundaries and has multiple interpretations across the world, and it gives any textile innovator a chance to experiment,” says this textile engineer and self-taught designer.
“The idea of the label took form about a year ago. Over the last 20 years, our textiles have found a place of prominence in both Indian and international markets. Alamelu is a natural progression. We have incorporated our finest woven designs into contemporary silhouettes for a global audience.” While designing for Alamelu, the entrepreneur was able to shift the point of origin of the design process to the yarn stage. Virtually every single aspect of the garment has been designed in-house and end-to-end: the motifs, surfaces, colours and silhouettes.
He is honest enough to admit that he should have ventured into the ready-to-wear market much earlier. So what stopped him? “As a designer, my first love has always been Indian textiles. This is where I chose to focus my energies for the past 10 years under my design label Aadvaya, which is perhaps why Alamelu took time to launch. We are a textile-led company and hence the textile focus has dominated our mindspace. So while the capabilities and the vision were always there, the idea has taken time to come to fruition.”
Headquartered in Bengaluru and available at leading multi-designer stores across the country, the first collection presents a tight edit that comprises just over 30 pieces. The palette is contemporary, beginning with warm, luminous eggshell tones to soft pebble-like greys, going into moss greens, olive, navy, and jewel-like ruby tones highlighted with hints of copper. The cuts are relaxed and play with proportions and layers. From structured classics like the pantsuit and trench coats to easy shirt-dresses, tops, tunics, and pants, the collection lends itself effortlessly to being styled as per the wearer’s preference.