Mrinalini Chandra: Preserving Indian Techniques

Mrinalini Chandra Courtesy Photo

MUMBAI –Indian couture jewelry designer Mrinalini Chandra launched her eponymous label in the summer of 2013, after studying at Milan’s Richemont Group-promoted Creative Academy and working at India’s leading jewelry store, Tanishq and German brand Mont Blanc.

Barely two years old, her own label has already gained massive popularity, making her one of the most sought after young designers on the Indian fashion scene to watch out for. Could it be the seamless amalgamation of quirky designs like leaping monkeys, chairs hanging off hearts and oversized floral patterning brought to life with ancient Indian techniques that are slowly dying out? Whatever the reason… everything Chandra touches seems to turn to gold.

“Indian Handicraft techniques and textiles always inspired me. It was perhaps this love for delicate and intricate handcrafted artworks that made sure I picked up a field that will allow that indulgence,” Chandra said. With an aim to revive archaic techniques, Chandra is on a quest to empower artisans, using their skills with her creativity. Sholeen Damarwala finds out what it takes to play Indiana Jones on a quest to strike gold.

BACO: What has been the dominating ethos of your label?

Mrinalini Chandra: My Label stands for everything I believe in. For instance, small things that bring cheer and joy to my day, a reverence for craft, an inherent love for colour and anything poetic. It is nearly impossible for me to comprehend darkness or anything sinister and you would never see such influences in my work. I worship detail and finesse and aim at getting that translated into my work.

BACO: You seamlessly blend contemporary techniques with traditional methods. How do you strike a balance between both, the old and new techniques?

MC: I am very hands on with my work. I like to think of myself as an artisan. I always make it a point to sit with my alloy and create new things together. It’s a very fulfilling process. We are lucky that handwork is valued so much around the globe. The beautiful history and craft techniques of India have always inspired and moved me. I like the mix of traditional techniques and modern aesthetics. I also owe this in part to my educational experience in Milan where I learned to appreciate different aesthetics and techniques. It gave me a sense of balance and I find that made a huge difference in my perception of jewelry trends and how it impacted by its surroundings.

BACO: From chairs and hearts to monkeys and bugs. Tell us a little bit about the thought process into making quirky jewelry a collectible?

MC: I draw inspiration from everywhere. Variety inspires me. There is scope for so many new things. This thought challenges me the most to experiment and take risks in terms of material, forms etc. I like to work with different and challenging ideas. I have a great team of artisans from various parts of India who realize my designs to perfection. I am most thankful to my craftsmen and my team.

BACO: You have had some very strong collections so far. What has been your inspiration?

MC: The process of making jewelry is extensive and full of learning. Falling in love with every concept and living it throughout the process, only brings out the best in every piece. Once a sketch of an idea comes to life, there is nothing more rewarding. I mostly feel like a happy craftsman behind the scene. For me jewelry is a very personal sort of body adornment. Often people are seen sporting their beliefs via the jewellery they wear. It could be religious beliefs, cult expression or signifying ones marital status. It could be anything really. I love that how it’s an important part of our everyday life. And my aim is to make my pieces an everyday expression.

BACO: What do you feel is lacking on the Indian jewelry scene?

MC: I think it’s time to give people a break from monotony and add a little playfulness in their jewelry boxes.

BACO: What next?

MC: I hope we can surprise our audience yet again with our new line. It’s fun and offbeat. All I can I say is, it’s far from what we have done so far. We are pretty excited about it.

BACO: As a jewelry expert, do tell us that one tip to make your bauble last longer? 

MC: Always keep the jewellery in plastic packaging and boxes. No velvets. Also, keep each pair of earrings in a separate plastic pouch to avoid scratches and breaking.


HEADQUARTERS: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India





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