Podcast Ep. 19, LISA HALL, EXPLORING INDIAN CRAFT
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EPISODE 19 FEATURES LISA HALL
The fashion business is based on many hands, and on women’s labour. 80 % of garment workers are women. So while fashion is a giant global industry with extremely sophisticated marketing behind it, at the end of the day, it’s built on a woman sitting sewing in a room somewhere. And women sewing is wonderful. Some of fashion’s most inviting stories about that. Like today’s…
After years as a dressmaker and sewer of costumes for film & TV our of a rather toney suburb of Sydney, Lisa Hall made a radical change and moved to hot, dry, dusty Bhuj, a small city in the Kutch district of Gujurat, in northwest India.
It’s way off the obvious tourist track, except during flamingo season, when thousands of pink birds descend on the lagoons of the nearby Great Rann salt marsh.
Lisa made the trip with her sewing machine and her rescue cats in tow - she couldn’t leave Sydney without her furry family. What drew her there? What’s it like to live in Bhuj when you don’t speak the language? What’s all this got to do with fashion?
it was the rich tradition of women’s craft that drew Lisa to India. Her Madame Hall label, which debuted at Lakme fashion week in Mumbai in February, uses traditional local textiles and artisan embroideries but in non-traditional, quirky and unexpected ways.
From her tiny workroom, she makes makes one of a kind clothes, which she sells on Etsy, using traditional Ajrakh block printed cotton, and tribal embroideries.
She says: “For me, designing is a about more than drawing a pretty picture, and handing it over to someone else to make. And she talks about being “sensitive to the 'energy' of clothes”.
Lisa cares about sustainability, about using natural dyes are well as natural fibres and making clothes to last, in response to the fabrics - so the thing about her one-off business model is that each piece is inspired by the vintage fabrics she finds -she is reacting to the cloth and prints, and changing the patterns all the time. Madame Hall is about respecting local crafts and embracing the artisanal.
"COLOUR AND THINGS THAT ARE PRETTY CAN SPREAD JOY, THEY MAKE YOUR LIFE BETTER. I TRY AND MAKE MYSELF A WALKING VISUAL FEAST." - LISA HALL
In February Lisa showed at Lame fashion week in Mumbai, in collaboration with master block printer Sufiyan. The show was part of IMG Reliance's Sustainable Fashion Day at the festival.
Gujarat is famous for its embroideries, including the famous Rabari mirrorwork, traditionally stitched by village women, for themselves and their families, to create festivity, honour deities, or generate wealth. There are over 16 different embroidery traditions in the region. Read all about them here.
Garasia Jat work originated outside of Kutch. Garasia women stitch an array of geometric patterns in counted work based on cross stitch studded with minute mirrors to completely fill the yokes of their churi, a long gown. This style, displaying comprehension of the structure of fabric, is unique in Kutch and Sindh.
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