We are going through an unprecedented phase of change and societal upheaval. As we post this, we are writing from a period of quarantine put in place to fight Covid19. Suddenly, we as a collective are pushed into a slower pace of doing things, which takes us back to the beginning of our work, down the memory lanes, especially now that spring is round the corner– the season of rejuvenation, birth and creativity. Over a decade ago when we had started out as self-taught designers, we were drawn to the old world charm of Pichwai art of Nathdwara which stands behind the scenes, providing a backdrop to the looming presence of Sreenathji.This journey into an unexplored world of traditional art was a challenge of diving deep into the unknown. Yet, it was nothing less than a magical tale of serendipity and discovery.
“Pratham” translates into ‘the first and foremost’. We incarnated ourselves as a brand that pays homage to the birth of something new, the first mother, the seed of developing a saga of wearable art that takes inspiration from a 17th century form of spiritual temple art. We had undertaken the daunting task of being recognised as pioneers in this area of creating Pichwai sarees, which had never been explored earlier. It filled us with apprehension but also the nervous excitement of attempting something absolutely new. We had to fall back upon history and mythology that surround the culture of Bhakti in Nathdwara. We were taken on numerous journeys to the old town, which we sought to get a tactile and visual sense of. These initial interactions and touch of wonder with the vibrancy of the place found artistic expression in our first collections that played with colours and design to tell the untold story of Pichwai motifs.
Today, Label Pratham is most recognised for its iconic Pichwai sarees that have been created using our diverse handloom and craft traditions across the country. Hence, you will find a first-of-its-kind Pichwai Paithani and Pichwai Ajrakh saree in our repertoire, all conceived and created in our studio. We have endeavoured to be a platform to emerging new artists who interpret this traditional art form through interesting and innovative ways. At the same time, we always make sure that we never lose sight of our roots, and keep the spirit of Pichwai alive in its authenticity of form and history.
For the founders, Prashant and Shweta Garg, Label Pratham is a true labour of love. Each creation is motivated by their commitment towards our cultural heritage and celebrating the handmade richness of the craft communities across the length and breadth of India, while keeping alive the unadulterated exuberance of fusion. One of the aspects that most fascinated us about Pichwai when we started out with the brand was the nature of this traditional art form, which provides a cosmogynic backdrop to Lord Krsna’s murti. It led us to realise that what Pichwai stands for is also, in a generic manner, what art is in essence supposed to be for human society. Residing in the background, providing support and meaning to the many complexities inherent in civilization. It is with this conviction that we continue to make sense of the inherently unpredictable and chaotic times of today as we stride on towards a future that will be inevitably affected by the onset of this global pandemic. A future wherein the role of man in aiding nature-culture harmony will be supreme; a future that will perhaps, hopefully, acknowledge the connectedness man has to the natural order of life. We stay deeply motivated to art and material culture, therefore, and hope to contribute to a narrative of fashion that is conscious about the role we have to play in pushing a fresh story of craft, production and consumerism.
We hope to continue our contributions to the revivalism of Pichwai art as well in the days to come. This could not have been possible without you, our followers and loyal supporters. Here's thanking everyone from the Label Pratham family!