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Meet the Gujarat Artisans Behind Emma Watson’s Costumes in the New Beauty and the Beast Movie

Intricate Aari embroidery and fair-trade fabrics sourced from India bring Belle's costumes alive in the newest adaptation of the iconic fairy tale.

Meet the Gujarat Artisans Behind Emma Watson’s Costumes in the New Beauty and the Beast Movie

In its newest adaptation of the famous fairy tale, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is gliding up the box office charts. Fans of the movie will surely be delighted to know that one of Emma Watson’s most beautiful outfits has been made right here in India.

Kasam and Juma Sangar, two artisans from Bhuj, have embroidered one of the costumes worn by Belle, the movie’s protagonist played by Emma.

Image source: Youtube

The made-in-India collaboration was made possible by the effort of Sinéad O’Sullivan, the movie’s assistant costume designer. Sinead is committed to the #whomademyclothes campaign, which strives to promote supply chain transparency and ethical sourcing in the global clothing industry.

Seeking fair-trade, responsibly sourced textiles, she reached out to the artisans in Gujarat. Brothers Kasam and Juma who are originally from the Bhuj region practise their craft in Mandvi. Both are experts in hand embroidery and employed aari, an intricate needlework technique, to design the French floral design on the bodice of Belle’s dress during a scene at the library.

The two brothers have practiced mocha aari embroidery since they were teenagers, having learnt the craft from their late father Adam Sangar, a master craftsman who specialised in this needlework technique. The Sangar family is among the last of the community practicing the craft in its authentic avatar. However, the brothers also make room for innovation, like employing frames to create the embroidery more easily and replacing the traditional wood-handled aari needle with a hooked needle.

In an interview with University of Warwick, Kasam Sagar has emphasized their preference for buyers who appreciate the history and intricacy of the craft, while also ruing the lack of local demand for their products. Aari is a painstaking process, and the Sangar family’s embroidery is often exported to other countries and also displayed in many prestigious museums and exhibits.

You might also like: 5 Desi Designers Who Helped India Win the Prestigious International Fashion Showcase Award in London

Not only that, a substantial amount of sourcing was also done in India, according to Sinead who was part of the team put together by Jacqueline Durran, the movie’s chief costume designer. The young designer shared her insights and experiences on social media, highlighting the emphasis on using “ethical, fair-trade and sustainable fabrics wherever possible.”

Jacqueline has also mentioned in an interview to People that Emma’s emphasis on ethical clothing moved her to stick closely to sustainable practices.

“Because Emma is so interested in sustainability and fair trade, eco fabrics and eco fashion, we applied those criteria to making a costume from head to toe,” she said.

In addition to the embroidery done on Emma’s outfit, fair-trade co-operatives in India have contributed many of the fabrics sourced for the movie, including Belle’s iconic “red cape look.”

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