As a young woman growing up in Bengaluru city in the early 60s and 70s, within a family whose roots were steeped in the city’s culture and history, art and aesthetics were a way of life for Latha Puttanna. The cultural ethos of the time involved rapid assimilation and experimentation with tradition. Latha was especially touched by her mother’s foresight in fashion. An Avante Garde woman, in her own right, Latha’s mother innovated with the use of fabric in traditional outfits. She also experimented with silhouettes, occasionally stepping out of the skirt and drape and into a trouser and jacket.
These early experiences shaped Latha’s own interest in Deccan art and heritage and set her on a lifelong quest for what these mean in contemporary times.
Her choice of colors, fabric, and crafts,
act as a curating force,
Speaking directly to a shared history,
of the southern peninsula.
While her canvas of shapes, structure and shifting dimensions,
in clothing silhouettes and embroidered motifs,
incorporate and innovate,
And pulsate to the rhythm of
a rapidly fluctuating local and global aesthetic,
And burgeoning city maps.
Establishing herself as an artist par excellence and chronicler of the Deccan, Latha’s organic and prolific growth as a fashion designer at the forefront of Bengaluru’s new-wave fashion scene came from a desire to redefine heritage by persistently reinventing herself. For Latha, fashion and art are synonymous with style- an effortless way of living that draws from everyday sartorial innovations. Witnessing Latha’s art unfold is akin to experiencing an unchanging essence of the peninsula that is on the road to a continuous assimilation of the new and positive. Trends are important to her when incorporated into her own unwavering and emphatic, stylistic essence.
While initially inclined towards painting, Latha’s keen sense of color play in styling festive ensembles for friends and family quickly caught everyone’s attention. Her defining style involves matching jewel-toned hues, representative of Deccan aesthetics, in uncharacteristic and unique ways whilst experimenting with foreign color schemes. While a love for color play introduced Latha to textile art, it was the art of embroidery that hooked her quest in redefining heritage to stitch and texture. Embroidery and embellishment are core to Latha’s design practice that seeks the impact of a single embroidered stitch on the personality of a garment. This process has lead to the invention of new stitches in her design repertoire. Latha also creates her own customized fabric, christened the Latha Puttanna weaves. At the studio, a viewer stumbles upon a diversity of fabric ranging from handloom, natural and heritage textiles, to the innovative Latha Puttanna weaves and conventional power loom works.
Each collection comprises multiple fabrics, embroidered and hand-crafted into ensembles, in unique color schemes, for festive and bridal occasions. Her bridal collections are customized to client needs, preferring to create trousseaux over replicable pieces. This way each bride finds a piece unique to herself; one that stays as an heirloom and gift.
Latha’s choices have always been unconventional and pioneering. She held season based exhibitions akin to fashion cycles even before these were fashionable. Exhibitions are the à la mode for Latha whose works may be accessed through bi-annual shows, held during summer and winter respectively, in addition to online retailing and permanent showcases at the boutique.
For those seeking traditional Indian trousseaux, festive wear and ethnic clothing, Label Latha Puttanna is a home full of adventures known for unusual saree and blouse pairings encored by lovers of drape, as well as anarkalis, lehenga cholis, kurtas and summer dresses. At the store, you can find fabric styles including silk in jewel-toned hues, gilded benarasi, cascading tissues, handwoven cotton, georgettes, crepes, and chiffons. Kalamkari and Bandini feature predominantly in Latha’s art, two forms that she blends seamlessly. Aari, applique, block-print, Ajrakh, and Zardozi are traditional Indian craft-forms that lend character to each composition. The depth and range of Latha’s work make repetition a wayfarer rarely seen in the label’s collection. In her signature, ethnic garments, bridal couture and pret line of affordable separates, the City’s soul sneaks in to find shelter every day.