‘Behind The Mask’ is a social awareness and fundraising initiative. Their goal is to encourage wearing of masks and to support the craftspeople affected by the pandemic.
The iconic fashion designers, Anita Dongre, Gaurav Gupta, Manish Malhotra, Rahul Mishra and Tarun Tahiliani are actively participating in this initiative. Among the five, Rahul Mishra is ‘unmasked’ in an episode, giving us a peek into his life during the pandemic, his design sensibilities and his inspiration for the mask prototype.
In each episode, the designer creates a prototype of a face mask based on a traditional Indian craft or culture. These prototypes then serve as inspiration for five unique mask collections, each a tribute to a craft or an artisan community.
Mishra’s workspace reflects his design sensibilities, as it features a photograph of Gandhiji and a small charkha belonging to his grandmother. As Gandhiji spoke of satyagraha, swadeshi and self-sustainability, that kind of vision is necessary to support the work of craftspeople all across India.
He understood the importance of sustainability very early on, which helped him define his style and it lies at the heart of his creations. He has generated employment for almost 700 artisans in villages itself, so they can work comfortably and stay with their families.
The mask prototype was made using three-layered muslin cotton that was leftover natural fabric from his earlier design projects. It features motifs and simple patterns of block print on the top, paying tribute to all the highly skilled Indian craftspeople who have mastered it over centuries.
He offers a simple solution, by using two elastic bands, that goes over the ears, behind the head to ensure fit and ease of use. He carefully tailors the mask with sufficient gap for breathing comfortably.
He was inspired by his grandmother who would often handprint her saris herself. Block printing designs are sometimes intricate and detailed. These are carved onto wooden blocks by skilled craftspeople, a lengthy painstaking process. A great deal of processes go into creating the final product. This traditional technique requires absolute accuracy from the artisan to ensure seamless continuity in the repeated motifs and patterns.
The mask prototypes created by the five designers have inspired a collection of masks that is available on Myntra. All profits from the sales will be donated to GiveIndia to help the kaarigars (craftspeople) affected by the pandemic.