At Raw Mango, cupboards are thrown open with a gleeful flourish normally reserved for curtains at the theatre. After all, for designer Sanjay Garg, all the world is a stage.
The brand’s latest drop, Peacock Country is an unexpected fusion of cultural traditions,bringing together motifs and silhouettes from Mughal and Rajput architecture and painting. “It’s based on a popular story — the opera Indra Sabha,” says Sanjay, adding, “I decided to do it live, in my way.”
Written in 1852 by Amanat Ali, the opera pivots around a love story told with fantasy and drama. Given Raw Mango’s penchant for storytelling, it is a suitable fit for this year, as people dive joyfully, and gratefully, back to the familiarity of the Indian festive season after the quiet of the pandemic.
The collection is an interesting balance between the brand’s core aesthetic of understated luxury, and the exuberance of an Awadhi court. “There is the maximalism of India, with fabrics, colours and silhouettes, but the clothes are simpler,” says Sanjay. With clean, unfussy lines, the saris, lehengas and kurtas are luxuriant with precise handwork and painstakingly created, glittering motifs.
“I wanted to convey the idea of unity — of the coming together of different ethnic, cultural and religious communities, which results in the wonder that is India,” says Sanjay, “So there’s the heavy use of gold and silver tissue as well as embroidery…” The Ganga-Jamuna motif, underlining the idea of bringing together two unique identities runs through the collection, surfacing in ribbons of sparkling silver and gold on dupattas and saris.
The colours too are a subtle departure from Raw Mango’s signature pop hues. “We have peacock green, blood red… It’s jewel tones with very deep and saturated colours,” says Sanjay.
As always, there is a significant amount of research, craft and skills behind the pieces: Raw Mango is popular for its ability to draw inspiration from a palette of Indian colours, then collaborate with karigars across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Varanasi, to create easy-to-wear, contemporary pieces.
The engineered brocade kurtas in the Peacock Country line, for example, have a planned, pleasing symmetry. “It is a specific skill set in luxury craft, the ornamentation is made on the loom, so you need to decide what you want right from the start,” says Sanjay.
For Raw Mango, of course, the start is the story. Which, Sanjay believes is their greatest strength. Stating that they do constant research on the country’s craft and design traditions, he says, “We are inspired by so many different parts of the country.” Tamil Nadu, he hints, may be the inspiration for the next drop.
The Peacock Country is available across Raw Mango stores in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai. The Chennai store is at 2/15 Cenotaph 1st Lane, Ganapathy Colony Main Road, Teynampet.