Making Kasavu relatable again! Fashion designer Kavita Thulasidas’ reinterpretation comes with futuristic goals

Born and brought up in Singapore, a third-generation Singaporean is trying her best to protect her Indian culture and heritage through fashion. This is the story of Kavita Thulasidas, an award-winning fashion designer, who identifies herself as a ‘half Malayali’.

Born to a Sindhi mother and a Malayali father, Thulasidas, a recipient of the prestigious Singapore Fashion Award, showcased her collection at Indian Heritage Centre’s special exhibition for the Malayali community in Singapore.

Ente Veedu: Back to Roots

Titled ‘Ente Veedu: Back to Roots’, the collection featured Kerela’s Kasavu. When asked how the idea of the exhibition was conceived, Thulasidas told Connected to India that it started off as a casual conversation between the festival organisers and herself.

Asked if she would be interested in doing a little show to “showcase a couple of pieces that would reflect the Malayali community”, the designer agreed.

“It was really exciting. The Kasavu has always been my all-time favourite… The simplicity of the Kasavu, and the fact that it’s quite timeless and hasn’t changed too much in its true sense, is very very special to me.”

-Kavita Thulasidas

It was also the perfect opportunity to for her to introduce the Kasavu to an international audience and make it more relatable. The designer didn’t have to look too far for inspiration. She was able to use her own experience, of seeing her 25-year-old daughter’s reluctance to wear the Kasavu, as a means for her reinvention.

The challenge, however, was to deconstruct the three-type silhouettes that is attributed to the textile. “It was really exciting, to be able to do something that was totally unpredictable. That gave a new life and a new twist to the Kasavu,” she said.

Thulasidas, who is also a third-generation entrepreneur, helming Stylemart, an Indian fashionwear brand in Singapore, received accolades for the Ente Veedu collection. “A lot of them were really impressed. They felt that it was very original, unpredictable… it was very international,” Thulasidas said about the reviews she received.

Common goals

While the collection was lauded, the show too was feted. No fashion show is ever complete without hair and make-up. This is where Kavita Thulasidas collaborated with Singapore-based make-up artist Gayathri Menon.

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Unlike the designer, Menon wasn’t born and brought up in Singapore, but settled in 11 years ago. “We moved from Australia to New Zealand to Singapore. So, a typical trailing spouse story,” she told CtoI. Once in Singapore, Menon admitted to devoting more time to her craft and today she heads Gayathri Menon Makeovers, with clientele in Singapore, India, Australia, New Zealand and UK.

Speaking about Ente Veedu, she said: “We brought in aspects of the hairstyling… the buns, accessories, the jewellery on the buns, the braids, with flowers, but instead of the flowers we used jewellery. For the makeup we used more golds, a little bit of red, which were again traditional colours.”

Like her other partner in the project, Menon also focused on making the final product relatable and timeless. “Little aspects that we could give it a little modern take and make it seem timeless,” she added.

Meanwhile, have you ever tried the Kasavu? Let us know in the comments below.