An exclusive interview with Sanchita Ajjampur, founder of Bee Luxe.
In the heart of the Première Vision Paris show, Maison d’Exceptions is an area exclusively for fashion designers and luxury brands. This unique showcase welcomes 27 ateliers with rare know-hows, and offers an international and diverse selection of exceptional techniques.
For the February 2017 edition, Bee Luxe joins Maison d’Exceptions for the first time.
Bee Luxe is known for its ability to reinterpret the finest Indian artisanal embroidery for leading fashion houses. Yet you have always collaborated with artists, designers…
We began in 1996 by designing hand-wovens and special fabrics – feathers woven into silks, weaving with gold threads and extraordinary fine silk chiffons from Mongolia … We have dressed personalities from the art world, such as Robert Rauschenberg. For some art and design projects we collaborated with Alessi, Swatch watches and Jaguar, and we have also worked with artists Arianna Caroli and John Drake Moore on some decorative art projects. We’ve even embroidered with real teeth!
What are some of the wildest creations you’ve made?
I’d say the incredible pieces of embroidery made with actual shells and real hair from the Indian temple of Tipuari. They were made for Alexander McQueen, with whom we collaborated for nine years. It was an extraordinary period of creativity; we transformed fabrics into a fabulous harmony of shapes and surfaces. Many of these embroideries were included in the retrospective exhibit dedicated to McQueen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
What sets apart Bee Luxe embroideries?
We work with artisanal embroiderers from Bengal, a region specializing in traditional, very high-end embroidery. We reinterpret this know-how – handed-down from generation to generation since the Mongol empire – in a highly contemporary way, with a certain delicacy and fragility. I like to deconstruct fabric into a three-dimensional decorative surface made up of multilayers. Around 100 craftsmen bring together the know-hows involved in embroidery, leather-working, weaving and hand-printing. All of them come from different regions. We speak four or five languages every day!
What are the latest developments you’ll be presenting at Maison d’Exceptions?
We will be presenting our raffia wovens and prints. Even though raffia is very raw and has a certain ‘poor’ aspect, raffia fibre is truly exceptional and makes possible a rich range of combinations. We embroider it very finely with pearls, golden threads and cotton or silk yarns. We obtain a three-dimensional textile surface that inhabits space while moving, somewhat like a dance. Along with our most sophisticated creations, which are exhibited in the form of samples and applications on shoes and dresses, we are also presenting our latest indigo developments on raffia and cotton interpreted in a chic street style, which is very on trend right now.
How does the collaboration with your clients work?
Our clients can immerse themselves in our 50,000-piece archive. But we do have to explain to them the time needed to produce each project. Certain leather jackets, for example, require 500,000 hours of work. As we have had the same high-end customers for years, they understand the embroidery process and know we have the experience and logistics to keep up with the fast pace of collections. Luxury today requires the ability to inhabit several mental and physical realms simultaneously: original design, methodology and execution.
How did you come to create Bee Luxe?
I feel like a gypsy; I’m always on the move. I was brought up in Europe, steeped in the Indian culture, and spoke German as my first language. I’ve lived all over the world. Working from a multicultural point of view, even though this can be quite difficult in India, is one of my strengths, and helps me get in sync with clients’ expectations. Hence the name Bee Luxe, which is a reference to bees. Like bees, we live in colonies made up of thousands of individuals, in order to perpetuate a world where each element is enlivened by the spirit of the buzzing hive, tied into language networks and infused with a metaphorical imagination. We too cultivate hidden details, bear colours, and pursue our quest to create an aesthetic nectar. With Bee Luxe, I’m striving to create a harmony with Nature, enhanced by the magical hands of artisans.
Interview by Stéphanie Bui, founder and editor @The Daily Couture.com
PLEASE NOTE: Maison d’Exceptions is exclusively for the men’s and women’s luxury market – apparel, leather goods, footwear and jewellery. In order to guarantee optimal working conditions for the ateliers and visitors at the show, Première Vision reserves the right to limit access to the space.