Set against the historic backdrop of City Palace, Jaipur–a city that has inspired Dongre time and again, the debut edition of Rewild was a weekend-long fashion fundraiser that was co-hosted by Princess Diya Kumari and Princess Gauravi in support of elephant conservation in South India. The collection, although consisting of only womenswear, featured traditional artistry in modern silhouettes in the form of kaftans, pantsuits, ankle-length lehengas and jackets, with models walking on beat to the tunes of folk artists.
The showstopper of this event wasn’t any celebrity (although there were plenty of them there), but the life-size elephant sculptures that were crafted from Senna spectabilis weeds and Lantana camara–one of 10 most invasive weeds in the world that are taking over forests and threatening the survival of pachyderms by reducing their fodder base in the region. Here’s an interesting fact: not only does Lantana camara push animals out of their habitat, but it also tends to cause crop damage, affecting the livelihood of the indigenous communities living in those areas.
What makes these Lantana elephant sculptures unique is that not only are they painstakingly made by hand, but they’re also exact replicas of the wild elephants who reside in the Gudalur Forest Division. Arjun, Pushpa, Malati and Jamal made up a herd of 30 life-size majestic pieces of art that included baby calves, mother elephants and spirited adolescent little beauties. The funds from the purchase of these sculptures aim to support the preservation of elephants and the livelihood of the artisans who crafted them.
The ace designer also took this opportunity to announce the launch of a new homeware line, Grassroot Home, that will provide employment opportunities and financial independence to rural women in Rajasthan by producing the collections in the training centres of The Princess Diya Kumari Foundation. The weekend ended with a grand dinner which consisted of thali full of traditional Rajasthani delicacies curated by The Leela Palace, followed by a rip-roaring and electric performance by Midival Punditz. Here’s toasting to more designers who are driven by the purpose of bringing about a change, whether it’s through their sustainability initiatives or welfare programmes for preserving Indian crafts and craftsmanship.