Shruti Kirti is punctual, professional and a trendsetter. She is also Eye on India’s Fashion Director. She has been with Eye on India for three years now, and in that time has envisioned, supported and coordinated the amazing SARI Project. Kirti grew up in the Chciagoland area, but her cultural roots are in Rajasthan, India. Currently Kirti is a Designer in Residence at the Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy’s on State Street. There she tirelessly creates her contemporary womenswear line.
When one thinks about India and fashion, they often reference detailed hand embroidery, rich everlasting colors, and of course luscious lengths of saris. Saris, the unofficial Indian dress women wear, has long been documented throughout the country’s ancient history. Since Eye on India’s conception in 2011, there has been an interest in developmenting a fashion portion of the Festival. And with our committed partnership with Columbia College Chicago, we were able to capitalize on that eagerness with the first Sari Project in 2014. An immediate Festival favorite, the Sari Project took off with Columbia College’s fashion faculty and students driving the project towards taking a traditional piece of fabric, the sari, and turning it into a modern garment.
In addition, a competitive angle was added to the project. A panel of influential Chicagoans judged each design and the final five pieces were presented to Chicago designer, and Michelle Obama favorite, Maria Pinto. Pinto, being a presence during the first year on the Project, took time out of her schedule for a classroom visit and casual conversation with each student. She then picked one student’s work, and that individual was awarded an internship with Pinto.
The juxtaposition of the contemporary silhouettes with the authentic material, all brought from India, created truly outstanding pieces that were put on display in the Willis Tower lobby for a three month period. Following the success of the first year, Eye on India continued the project and its competitive element, adding an environmentally friendly emphasis. All the saris were donated both locally from Chicago, as well as from New Delhi, India. The students were asked to use every inch of the material, not wasting a single scrap of fabric, making it a zero waste piece. A hand full of the pieces were displayed at our Opening Night reception and the winning piece, judged by Eye on India’s fashion director, was featured at the Bridgeport Art Center Gallery for the summer months.
The Sari Project has cemented itself as an Eye on India Festival must see. The undeniable combination of design, fashion, and education is a combination that has endless potential. We are really looking forward to sharing what is in store for this year’s Festival, so stay tuned!