What can you do to save artisan crafts?

A fortnight ago, I was at the Frida Kahlo Diego Rivera exhibition at the Art Gallery, New South Wales in Sydney. As I savoured every moment of my close encounter with Frida’s life and work, I was humbled by Frida’s deep commitment to Mexican art and crafts.

What can you and I do to save artisan crafts from the onslaught of mass produced goods? Artisan crafts are losing out to assembly line production. When we lose a craft, we do not just lose the technique. We lose a legacy that is handed down from generation to generation. Of late, I detect a sense of despair among the artisan community elders and cynicism among the younger artisans who are abandoning the crafts of their forefathers to work in factories or drive tuktuks.

An artisan derives satisfaction out of little things, from the warp and weft of a scarf he weaves or from a length of fabric he prints. When women sit together, making crochet yokes or knitting beanies, it is as much about social interaction as it is about earning a livelihood. If we lose artisan crafts, we alter the social fabric to our detriment.

Thankfully, there is growing community of consumers who are asking questions about ethics in fashion. Read about how you can become part of this community and do your bit to save artisan crafts. Coming soon!

Frida’s imprint on Deidaa

Frida’s imprint on Deidaa: Introduction

Frida Kahlo, undoubtedly, was Mexico’s most celebrated creative personality. Born of a German father and a Mexican mother, Frida was a heretic who gave a new meaning to Mexican folk art through her paintings. Under a veneer of femininity and tradition, Frida’s paintings spoke of her personal battles with ill health, deprivation that rose from her repeated failure to have children, her volatile relationships with artists and politicians like Leon Trotsky and the chronic infidelity of her long standing partner, Diego Rivera. Frida was known for her self portraits. She painted herself because, as she mentioned, ‘ … I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.’

Frida’s imprint on Deidaa: Influence

With her flowing maxi skirts ( which she wore to hide a physical deformity), ethnic jewelry, signature floral turbans and vivid red scarves, Frida had a profound impact on many fashion designers including Deidaa. Not directly related to fashion, Frida was a fashion icon. She was photographed with a regularity reserved for for movie starts and celebrities.

Deidaa borrows from Frida’s flowing costumes, her eye for embroideries and printed detail, her love of colour and her penchant for symbolism. Frida’s celebration of tradition had a rebellious streak. Deidaa, too, engages in reinventing artisan crafts, without destroying their essence and in collaboration with the makers.

Frida mentioned. ‘I paint flowers so they will not die.’ Inspired by this, Deidaa decorates her kaftans and scarves with impressions of Australian flora and fauna, for present and future generations to cherish and enjoy.

Frida’s imprint on Deidaa: Conclusion

Her several personal battles notwithstanding, Frida Kahlo celebrated life. Eight days before she died, Frida painted watermelons. She inscribed ‘long live life’ on the painting. Deidaa takes a leaf out of Frida’s never say die attitude and indomitable spirit. Like Frida,  Deidaa too, soldiers on, celebrating sustainability, nature and artisan crafts.

Death claimed Frida Kahlo in 1954. Her legacy lives on in La Casa Azul or the Blue House, Frida’s beloved home in Mexico City.





Deidaa’s tribute: Frida Kahlo

Described as ‘the only artist in the history of art who tore open her chest and heart to reveal the biological truth of her feelings’ by Diego Rivera, her long time partner, Frida Kahlo was a renegade and trailblazer. Frida, undoubtedly, was the most celebrated Mexican painter. Her love for her own culture and tradition, her support for ethnic communities, her eye for detail strike a chord with Deidaa. Frida drew from her own reality, her mixed heritage, her chronic ill health and related isolation, and the indigeous Mexican culture.

Frida specialised in self portraits. Dressed in flowing maxi dresses, with vivid red scarves draped over her torso, floral head pieces and ethnic jewelry Frida left an indelible impression on team@deidaa. Deidaa borrows from Frida’s use of ethnic symbolism, folk motifs, vivid colours and local flora and fauna.

The legacy of Frida Kahlo continues… full feature on Frida Kahlo, coming soon on Deidaablog.

Trans-seasonal apparel – a force to reckon with?

Trans-seasonal apparel – a force to reckon with?

Has this ever happened to you? On a cold winter morning, you are rugged up from head to toe. However, when you enter your your workplace, you are transported from the poles to the tropics. You cannot do a thing about the heating, since it is central. You are sweaty and hot, itching to get out of your jackets and jumpers, but you can’t! The only thing you are wearing underneath is your inner wear!

Isn’t it time we embraced trans-seasonal apparel, got rid of the summerwear/winterwear stereotypes and took stock of the new realities? Do we really need seasonal garments any more? We live, work and play in controlled environments. We travel between hemispheres. And if we happen to live in a city like Melbourne, we have to dress for four seasons in a day.

How do you cope with seasons that change as you push through the swivel door or as your flight takes off from the runway?

Here are a few Deidaatips:

Trans-seasonal apparel:  ‘Layer layer’

Wear several layers of clothes. Begin with a kaftan that can be worn as a dress, with or without tights. Wear a kaftan/cape combination over a lightweight jumper or camisole. Finish off with a trench coat or puffa jacket, depending on how much the mercury dips. I find a lightweight scarf absolutely indispensable. Outdoors, it keeps my neck warm and indoors it can be taken off or wrapped over the shoulder. Unlike its chunky counterparts, a soft and lightweight scarf folds into nothing and can be discreetly tucked into a bag.

Trans-seasonal apparel: Go middle of the road

It may be cold outside but our workplace or home may be artificially warm. Make sure all your inner layers are in middle weight fabrics. When you take off your outer layers, you will be comfortable wearing your inner layers in an artificially warm environment.

Trans-seasonal apparel:  Be ‘open minded’

Look for features like easywear, slip on or zippered front, when you go shopping for clothes. Structured clothes with numerous fiddly little things like buttons, do not lend themselves to quick and public transformations.

Trans-seasonal apparel: Embrace versatility

A kaftan in a medium weight fabric is an excellent cover up over bathers. It offers some protection and warmth when the sun goes down. It can be worn as a dress for the bonfire at dusk or at the beachfront barbeque. In winter, the kaftan can be worn over a jumper. Kaftans with zips along the centre front can act as a cape. You can wriggle out of a zip up kaftan in minutes.

It does not take much to strike a balance between comfort and fashion. All we need to do is to dress in response to the changing dynamics of life.