Designer Karishma Swali: Fusion of Passion and Business Brilliance


26 August 2023, Mumbai 

Mumbai's Fashion Maven
Karishma Swali, a designer driven by a three-decade love for Indian textiles and savvy global business acumen, holds a prominent role as both the creative force behind Mumbai's Chanakya International atelier and the Chanakya School of Craft.
She's also a significant figure in the couture brand Jade and the luxury ready-to-wear brand Moonray, earning her an influential stature in Indian fashion.

Couture and Recognition
Swali's impact extends across domains, but it's her imprint on Indian bridalwear and upscale couture that defines her legacy. For over a decade, her name has been synonymous with these realms.
The turning point arrived with Dior's autumn 2023 show in Mumbai, catapulting Swali and Chanakya to the global stage, directing an unprecedented spotlight towards Indian fashion.

Conserving Heritage with Vision
Reflecting on this achievement, Swali amusingly remarks, "Though it may seem we materialized out of thin air, we've been deeply engaged in preserving, rejuvenating, and innovating Indian arts since 1986." Chanakya, founded by her father Vinod Shah, aimed to unveil India's artisanal heritage globally.

Luxury Collaborations
Chanakya's client list reads like a luxury who's who, encompassing names like Balenciaga, Gucci, Prada, and more.
The Dior association traces back to Maria Grazia Chiuri's stint as creative director in 2016, a connection rooted in a 27-year relationship with Swali, originating from their shared time at Fendi.

Cultural Fusion and Opinions
Dior's grand Mumbai show cemented Chanakya's name with Dior's legacy, featuring an impressive 46-foot embroidered installation framed by iconic Indian landmarks. Despite mixed opinions on Dior's collection, Chanakya's craftsmanship garnered unanimous acclaim. Swali's focus, however, remains on the horizon.

Artistic Resonance and Progress
Post-Dior, Chanakya unveiled "Muḷ Mathi," an immersive exhibition featuring monumental textile art pieces and a wealth of explorations from their archives. Swali envisions expanding the influence of the Chanakya School of Craft, emphasizing women's empowerment in artisanal mastery.

Globalizing Craft Education
Swali aims to globalize the school's reach, sharing expertise and learning with underserved craft communities worldwide. She underscores that craft defies boundaries and is a core element of design language.

Cultural Appropriation and Craft Knowledge
Swali navigates the cultural appropriation debate with a focus on preserving techniques and celebrating the cultural and environmental value of craftsmanship. Craft's universality, as seen in techniques like the satin stitch, underpins diverse identities.

A Vision for Shared Craft
Swali concludes, "We're willing to share this knowledge whether it benefits a community in Mexico, Malawi, or Mumbai." Her journey encapsulates a fusion of art, heritage, and global vision, propelling her to the forefront of Indian fashion.

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