An old jamun tree outside her house, sparrows visiting the bird house in her balcony, a peacock motif from a Krishna temple in the hills of Himachal Pradesh or even a drawing made by her daughter – Rohini Singh takes inspiration from the everyday things around her to design various interesting pieces of ‘Wearable Art’. When you scroll through photographs of apparel or accessories designed by her, you cannot help but be charmed by the sheer simplicity of prints and the soothing hues that stem from her fondness for nature. Contemporary narratives originating from the miniature style of painting are what her work largely revolves around.
A Bachelor in Fine Arts from MSU, Baroda as well as a Masters in Painting from the Delhi College of Art, Rohini’s rendezvous with art began when she chose painting as an additional subject in Class XI and XII. “Honestly, I was quite bad at art in school but I had a strong affinity towards it. That’s why I decided to pursue it further and with time I got better at it”, says Rohini. Though she never studied textile art, today she runs one of the most exclusive homegrown wearable art labels – ‘Rekh by Rohini Singh’. “I began my career in art with making paintings but soon realized that there aren’t many people who understand art or who want to buy art. This led me to innovate and create a wearable form of art. It all started with a dupatta adorning a pomegranate print in 2015 and even today the pomegranate print continues to be one of my most popular designs. It is really fascinating to see people wearing your art”, tells Rohini while talking about her journey as an artist.
From dupattas and stoles, Rekh went on to experiment with sarees, bags and easy-breezy kaftans as well. With the Covid-19 pandemic, kaftans with matching masks became a big hit as relaxing lounge wear to slip into at home. Block print shirts for men with animal and bird designs are also quite popular. This summer, Rohini has also introduced comfortable night suits with pyjamas and shorts.
However, painting is and will always be Rohini’s first love. Her products often carry motifs that are inspired from some or the other design element in her paintings, making each design the only-of-its-kind. “Back in the 1970s, my grandmother used to run a block printing press in Mandawa House. I ended up using some of these blocks in my paintings. But when I started working with textiles, I re-worked on some of those designs and got them converted into blocks for printing on apparel”, shares the artist.
With the aim of bringing in sustainability in her work, Rohini makes sure that not even a small piece of fabric goes waste. Once a product is made, the remaining cloth is put to use in the form of aprons, potlis and pouches for glasses etc. In fact, even the bags in which she hands out her products are made from spare fabric.
Currently, Rekh operates through an online platform. However, in the future, Rohini hopes to open an art cum textile store where she can display both her paintings as well as wearable art. “When one will look at my paintings as well as the textiles together, they will be able to understand better the story and inspiration of my designs. Many a time it has happened that a person initially interested in buying my attire, has also bought the painting that was the inspiration behind the textile design. When people understand how a design was born, they relate more to the product and understand how each piece is unique in its own right”, says Rohini while throwing light on her plans ahead.
Explore/shop for Rekh by Rohini Singh’s collection here