This lady is reviving the dying art of making Pashmina shawls and boasts of an esteemed list of clientele, including royalty.
Captivated by the elegance and craftsmanship of finely woven Pashmina shawls, textile designer Varuna Anand along with her husband Parveen Anand took up the task of reviving the fading art. Varuna, who was born and brought up in Delhi, was married into a family from Jammu and Kashmir and that helped her turn her passion into a career. “After moving to Jammu, I realised the worth and the beauty of real Pashmina. It was a common sight to see people in Jammu draped in exquisitely crafted shawls, and it was something that I had never seen in Delhi. The kind of embroidery, workmanship and hardwork involved in the making of these shawls inspired me to revive this dying art,” recalls Varuna.
Boasting of clients like the Maharana of Udaipur and the Maharaja of Indore, Varuna says her favourite clients are the ones who understand and appreciate the art behind making these shawls. “I owe a large part of my exposure and success to Farooq Abdullah and Maharana Sahib Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, who have gifted my shawls at levels which I could have never thought of and have helped me in the revival process,” she elaborates.
Talking about her most cherished shawls and her personal collection, Varuna quips, “I got two shawls from my mother-in-law when I got married. They are very dear to me and I still drape them on special occasions. In my collection, you will mostly find shawls with intricate needlework. I have a wide range of Pashminas and I keep adding at least two to three new pieces every year to my wardrobe. I am getting there but there are more colours to add. I want to add a silk embroidery shawl and a sage green shawl in my wardrobe.”
Sharing her idea of de-stressing, Varuna, 46, a mother of two, says, “I am so passionate about my work that it is relaxation for me. After a hectic period of work, I love spending some qualitative time with my daughters and I like listening soft romantic numbers. Old school pop is a great stress buster for me, and it takes me back to my days of college. In my free time, I love listening to George Michael, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Bee Gees or Barry Manilow’s tracks on a repeat mode.”
Varuna admits being a very private person. “I have selective friends. I love hanging out with them and grabbing a drink or two.” To keep the art of shawl-making alive, the designer keeps travelling frequently across the country.
Recalling one of her most memorable vacations, she says, “I attended the wedding of Maharana of Udaipur Sriji Arvind Singh Mewar’s son in 2014, with my daughters. It was magical. The grandeur, the opulence and the hospitality made it a once in lifetime experience.”
Varuna, a self-confessed foodie loves to take out time for a relaxed meal with close friends and family. “I like Thai, Chinese or Japanese cuisine as much as I love sitting for a Kashmiri wazwan (multi-course meal) beautifully laid on dastarkhan. I am quite familiar with the regional cuisine prepared in the households of both Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits,” she shares.
An admirer of all things beautiful, Varuna confesses being a shopaholic. She says, “I am a compulsive shopper and I can buy anything. I love buying perfumes. They could be falling out of my wardrobe but that does not stop me from buying more. I rarely add new fragrances to my list. I love using perfumes that I have tried and tested for years. I am quite archaic when it comes to buying perfumes.”