From Cannes to New York, Sanjukta Dutta is making the world wear Assamese Silk garments

Sanjukta Dutta, a fashion designer from Assam, is one such name from the State, who has marked the state's name on the world map with her work.
From Cannes to New York, Sanjukta Dutta is making the world wear Assamese Silk garments

Assam is prominently known for its tea leaves and Muga Silk. This northeastern state of the nation is also house to a major, i.e, about 90 per cent of the greater one-horned rhino in the Kaziranga National Park. People from the state have gone on to become eminent personalities marking the name of the state in all fields of art worldwide. From artists to litterateurs to fashion designers, the influence of Assamese people in various fields of art has been vast.

Sanjukta started her journey in the year 2012 by setting up a small workshop in Guwahati. A desire to preserve the handloom of Assam determined Dutta to start this venture of hers. Dutta was aware of the low-income condition of weavers in the state. Weavers back then used to quit their skills in weaving to find alternate jobs. When Dutta started her workshop with just three weavers, they initially fled from their work after receiving their advance. She realized that actions have to be taken to facilitate the financial betterment of these weavers. Thus, she started providing the weavers she employed with a higher salary, three times the amount being paid in the market. Dutta believes that for a traditional vocation to be sustainable, the incomes have to be reasonable.

The year 2019 marked the debut of Sanjukta Das at the Cannes Film Festival with Ingrid Ilgine dressing in an Assamese Silk gown. The oscar-nominated Assamese Film Director, Rima Das from Assam also walked down the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. The director was seen in a picturesque mekhela chador, woven with luxurious Assamese Silk.

In the year 2022, Sanjukta's creations walked down the aisles of Cannes 2022. Ingrid Ilgine, a popular International model, walked the red carpet in a dress designed by her. This was a thigh-high slit dress in red, featuring a ruffled trail at the back. Sanjukta designed this dress using the prestigious Assamese Silk from her home state. However, this wasn't the first time when apparel designed by her was seen being worn by prominent personalities at the festival.

The specialty of Sanjukta's designs is her sensitivity to Indian tradition. Her work empowers femininity, feminism and a woman's grace. Sanjukta presented her new collection of couture at the New York Fashion Week 2022. This collection of silk attire was called "Alphool" by the designer. The handmade works of wonder take about 25 days to be completely finished. The collection featured structured Sarees, Mekhela Chadors, Drape-skirts, Indo-western lehengas, flowing gowns etc. This couture by the prominent designer celebrated the existence of Indian handloom while facilitating contemporary ethnic dresses for women of all domains of life.

This presentation by this ace designer once again put the Assamese Pat, Muga and Silk on a respectable platform internationally. Expressing her feelings on this, Sanjukta previously stated that the event was 'a dream come true' for her and the artisans involved in the production of the silk attires that were recognized in the prestigious fashion platform. She expressed that it was a privilege for her to see Assam's Handloom receiving acknowledgement in The New York Fashion Week. The designer was also dreams of a day when closets in the US will brim to the top with perfect Assamese couture designs by her. The designer says, "I will continue to bring success in all my endless efforts to make fashion a medium of self-discovery."

Acknowledging the richness of Sanjukta's designs, the Consul General of India, New York, expressed that in celebrating Sanjukta, one celebrates India. He mentioned that the richness of Das's designs represents all of Assam and India.

Major achievements by the designer also feature her bagging the "Best Designer of The Year" award at the Dada Saheb Phalke Excellence Award 2018. A major turnover in the life of Sanjukta was in the year 2016, when Bipasha Basu walked the ramp of the Lakme Fashion Week 2016 in a red and white mekhela chador, designed by Das. Ever since then, till her being awarded the mentioned award in the year 2018, her designs saw many Indian actresses from Priyanka Chopra to Dia Mirza dressed in traditional Assamese attires.

Das's initial venture of opening up her own workshop involved her quitting a government job. Das used to be an engineer, and prior to crossing over to be a design entrepreneur she worked at the Public Works Department (PWD) of the Government of Assam. After setting up her own unit in 2012, she managed to sell about 3000 units of fabrics within a year and a half. She commenced her entrepreneurial journey with a capital of Rs 15 lakh.

Along with producing garments, Sanjukta also experimented with Assamese traditional jewellery at the initial stage of her designing career. Dug Dugi, Keru Moni and Junbiri were some such ornaments that she embellished with her own creativity.

Sanjukta expressed back in the year 2016 that reviving the handloom industry involved her battling the cost advantage of China, where garments are produced cheaply due to abundance of labour and at cheaper rates at that.

Her decision to provide the weavers that she recruited with salary three times the amount provided in the market was one such decision made to facilitate her effort to bring the artisans back to the loom.

After her presentation in the Lakme Fashion Week 2016, Sanjukta once again presented another collection called, "Shukoola", in the Lakme Fashion Week 2021. Lara Dutta, the renowned actress and model wore her designs on the ramp of the fashion event. The title of the collection-which means white and bright- featured designs which were serene and reflected the theme. This event marked Lara Dutta wearing a mekhela chador for the first time.

Sanjukta's efforts to revive the Assamese Silk and Handloom industry have been instilling the advent of Assamese traditional silk and garments on prestigious national as well as international platforms. Her journey sets an excellent example of empowerment of women's entrepreneurship, which surely inspires many aspiring women in the state and the nation.

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