Back in March, local artist-wonder Rajni Perera stopped by the OCAD U Student Gallery to drop-off Legs 2 (2012), a small, jewel-toned painting that she’d made specially for mine and Caroline’s Electric Circus exhibition project. Her use of vibrant pinks and bold patterns inspired a colour love-in, and prompted us to lament the lack of bright, rich colours our daily lives. Rajni then proceeded to tell us about Nor Black Nor White, a Toronto team of designers working with Indian textiles in Bombay. Caroline and I were intrigued as we’ve both long been craving juicy fabrics and vibrant colours. The remainder of that workday was spent drooling over the collective’s clothes, which mix traditional fabrics and processes with a bold contemporary sensibility. When we learned shortly thereafter that the NBNW Spring 2012 collection would be available at Miracle Thieves for a few short days in July, we started saving our money.
Caroline and I happily exchanged those funds for beautiful clothes this past friday, the opening day of the BOM » YYZ pop-up sale at Miracle Thieves. The two of us were literally the first people to press our noses against the glass that morning; and our looks of desperation were seemingly enough to convince Tiffany (of Mircale Thieves) and Amrit (of NBNW) to open the door six hours before their official opening time. The racks were everything we’d been dreaming about: fiery pink and saffron yellow, Ikat prints, fringes and bold shapes. We tried dresses, skirts, jumpsuits, tops and jackets on for an hour: a dress-up dream.
These clothes are special for meaningfully infusing past and present, as well as east and west. The designers source their fabrics from hand-weavers in India, including Suraiya Hassan, an 88 year old “textile guru” whose own father advocated for the revival home-grown fabric processes and the eradication of English made cloth from Indian production. Suraiya’s story and her life-long dedication to the hand-loom are powerful reminders of the people and politics attached to each of our material things. NBNW’s interest in and dedication to India’s national textile community reveals the collective’s conscience, curiosity and holistic vision.
The substance carried by these garments was made heavier and yummier at the opening event, which took place on Friday evening. It was a festive fete of flowers, beer, shrines, vodka lemonade, bunting, ribbon and neon tape. Managing sales, drinks and line-ups was a friends-and-family affair that included the proud, warm and beautiful mothers of the NBNW designers. The fab-five formed a street-food production line on the sidewalk, assembling newspaper cones filled with a delicious mixture of chickpeas, herbs, chutneys and other magical food-stuffs. The intergenerational, international party was joyous and inclusive; and I left happy and hopeful.
Though it’s dramatic to say so, I feel that the NBNW project revives some of my faith in humanity, which is constantly shaken by the ignorance and indifference that’s brought our planet to its breaking point. If we all looked forward with the same sense of history, play, acceptance and innovation as the NBNW team, the world would be a better place.
And so, in short, I beg you to haul-ass to Miracle Thieves in time to check out some inspiring clothes, as well as some fabulous art — by Rajni herself! Funnily, the Legs 2 painting that started mine and Caroline’s love affair with NBNW is being sold as a limited edition print. YUM!!
Vanessa’s (writer) + Caroline (photographer) xo