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September 1 2014

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The Way Of Waris

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Waris Ahluwalia acts, designs fine jewelry, offers a selection of teas that spawned a pop-up tea house last fall, collaborates on skivvies with Yoox.com, and is now debuting a line of scarves. Renaissance man may not be the most original reference, but luckily, Ahluwalia had other terms on his mind. “I don’t think there’s a name for somebody who makes fine scarves,” the designer mused at the presentation for his House of Waris line last night. “I’m going to come up with it: Scarfiér sounds about right.” Pointing out the handiwork behind the new offerings—ten designs including one super-soft cashmere version that showcased an embroidered beehivelike pattern, Waris noted, “That’s the thread that ties it all together. I’m about fine jewelry, fine teas—no one should drink bad chai again!—and finely made scarves. It’s about authenticity and artisanship.”

Ahluwalia has a sense of humor about his work, but there’s also an underlying thoughtfulness and ode to craftsmanship that gives his pricey pieces a firm foundation. For Fall, he was ruminating on his Indian roots, Bali wanderings, and the Indonesian island’s Sacred Monkey Forest. “I’m a storyteller,” he preferred to be categorized. The plot featured rose-cut diamonds, set by a traditional Indian technique called Kundan Meena, which creates a stained-glass kind of effect, as well as little gold monkey figurines sprinkled about the presentation cases.

Those figurines, though luxuriously whimsical, weren’t strictly wearable. But his signature palm frond pendants are (real fronds played backdrop at the Museum of Arts & Design location), this season detailed with periwinkle enamel or encrusted in diamonds with an 18K gold “shadow” layer beneath. “Ideally, I prefer to work in a place where palm fronds grow,” he explained. “I love New York, but I can’t work here. I come here to observe and absorb, but when I work I need something quieter.” Indeed, some of his new designs had taken on a city edge. Rubies, chrysoprase, and lapis all had their moments, and of course, gold and lots of it. “Gold is my favorite; gold that tells the past, diamonds that see the future, and rubies that long for love,” Waris quipped. On that note, could a writing project be ahead? “Absolutely,” he responded. “I just have to find the time.”

Photo: Billy Farrell / BFAnyc.com

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