Garden Vareli, a legacy brand modernized Indian Wear through a visual language postured globally. Extracted from Bhaane’s very own moodboard are a series of campaign images that inspire us in our own pursuit to create nostalgia. Taking a trip down memory lane to simpler times with unfettered vision, industry-insider and a vital facilitator, Anjana Sharma fondly retrospects a prominent era in Indian design.
“It was around 1995. Garden Vareli was really breaking path in a space that once had a unilateral approach. Mrs Shah who was behind the brand studied the science behind prints, frequenting international exhibits and tradeshows to comprehend global trends and translate that perception to a homegrown brand. This is one of the brands that created ease in wear, with the introduction of polyester and other innovative fabrics – it was uncharted territory.”
“The campaigns were the most sought after of the times, shot by the likes of Prabuddha Dasgupta and Farrokh Chothia. It launched the faces of OG supermodels – Madhu Sapre, Namrata Shirodkar, Aishwarya Rai who were all under exclusive contracts for the brand. Before the advent of international glossies and in a pre-pre social media era there was great prestige in these campaigns fronting the pages of leading magazines like Femina, Stardust and Grihshobha with ads splashed across primetime television during the airing of Chayageet and Sunday Films.”
“ This was a time of small teams and multifaceted talent. You married a photographer with a campaign and apart from a hair and make up artist we were all a group of busybodies. There was microscopic attention-to-detail and because we were creating visuals that would be seen by all there was always a sense of authenticity and very little room for duplicity.”
“ It was really about pushing boundaries. We were selling everything from saris to dress materials and the designer interpreted the fluidity and ease of using the fabric through the most versatile ways. We shot this campaign in Ladakh before it was commercialized – just peaceful, pure landscape.”
“ It’s so incredible to look back at this brand as a veritable trendsetter in the industry. Behind the visuals that are so ahead of its time, so aspirational in its aesthetic was an intention to create for middle class India. The fabrics were sold at less than 100 rupees a meter, we styled it with accessories and shoes often from our private wardrobes or from what Mrs Shah referred to as ‘local haberdashery’. Women used to walk in with magazine and newspaper cuttings of pieces they were looking to buy – it was influence in its most undiluted form.”