A city of serene backwaters, tall coconut trees and best-quality spices, Kochi is now also an emerging spot of haute couture for discerning fashion consumers, thanks to Beena Kannan, a celebrated designer and textile revivalist in South India. She has launched her eponymous luxury couture brand, focusing on renewing the Indian silk Kanchipuram by making contemporary outfits from it.
Graceful and poised, Kannan, 60, is an heiress of the 110-year old textile house Seematti, considered to be one of the oldest and the biggest in Kerala. It was established by textile revivalist Veeriah Reddiar, Kannan’s grandfather, who opened the first Seematti store in 1910 in Alappuzha.
After taking over the responsibility of the family business in 1980, Kannan has conserved Seematti’s legacy of ethnic silk Kanchipuram saris, while continuing to evolve her creative palette in tandem with modern times, for modern consumers.
The grand reveal
Kannan’s label has created an eclectic range of generously embellished, red-carpet-perfect gowns, evening dresses, lehengas, long capes and jackets, flowy kaftans and belted saris – all oozing the easy elegance of pure Kanchipuram.
Grand Hyatt Kochi, Bolgatty, was the choice of venue for the special unveiling of label Beena Kannan’s debut collection. The ballroom was turned into a massive runway with 21 models tiptoeing on the tunes of Aigiri Nandini (a hymn on Goddess Durga), in the background.
‘The fashion show saw a big line-up of dreamy occasion wear – from heavy-looking, bouffant silk gowns, sequinned silk lehengas with touches of organza and zari work, lustrous silk Kanchipuram saris styled with monogrammed belts or long jackets or one-shoulder capes to breezy but embellished kaftans, body-fitting, bejewelled long dresses and not to forget the classic red bridal ensembles.
What also caught the attention was how Kannan ditched the traditional blouse designs and introduced a refreshing mood board of ballooned and corded blouse sleeves, which looked oh-so-dramatic!
In a conversation with LuxeBook, Kannan said that through her new brand, she is trying to address the changing demands and style aspirations of the millennials. “Seematti is known for its wedding-special Kanchipuram saris, but with label Beena Kannan, India’s first luxury silk couture brand, I aim to create outfits, fit for all ages and occasions.”
She adds, “I have clients from Dubai, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, London, and everyone has a different demand for designs, colours and silhouettes, and that’s where Beena Kannan as a bespoke couture label fits in.”
Inside the new retail museum
The big launch was followed by a special visit to Beena Kannan’s first luxury fashion museum-cum-store in Kochi, spread across 17,500 sq ft. Touched up with traditional, opulent interior décor, luxe lighting and sculptural mannequins, the museum is an experience centre where you can see, touch and feel the couture and accessories.
Each outfit has its own story and is inspired by various art forms of Chettinad, Mughal, Byzantine and Jamawar, impeccably woven in the Indian silk. And if you like what you see, a team of fashion consultants will be at your service to help you customize the outfit according to your liking. The craftsmen and master weavers of these outfits can also be seen in action here.
Beena Kannan works with a cluster of 1,500 craftspeople and sometimes it takes more than 90 days for one Kanchipuram outfit to be made into perfection.