Here’s a quick peep at some of the latest in ethnic fashion, which will surely make you stand out from the crowd this Onam

With Onam just a few days away, shopping in the capital city has reached a frenzied pace. Gifting of new clothes is a much loved custom of the festival and the colours of the season are shades of cream and gold. The traditional Kerala handloom sari has been tweaked, at times beyond recognition, to appeal to a new generation of customers who want something more in keeping with their lifestyle.

The plain off-white settu-mundu and sari have gone through a makeover with embellishments such as embroidery, painting, block printing and so on, adding shades of colours and glitz to the handloom cloth. This trend is reflected in the many boutiques and shops in the city as designer off-white saris in some of the city’s major boutiques and outlets fly off the shelves within days.

Rich colours

C.P. Rajendran & Sons Karalkada at Kaithumukku is a treasure-trove for those with an appetite for hand-woven saris. The off-white saris with golden/silver ‘kasavu’ have been embellished with rich block prints, ‘booti’ work and art that resembles mural paintings.

Sobha Aswhin, proprietor-cum-brand manager of the outlet, says: “Block printed saris with motifs of animals, leaves and mangoes are a hit with customers this season.” A block-printed sari with ‘kasavu’ ranges from Rs.1,500 to Rs. 6,000, depending on the width of the ‘kasavu’ and intricacy of design.

Saris painted with designs that are inspired by Kerala’s murals are also fast movers. Chandran Pillai, salesperson, explains: “The ‘pallu’ of these saris are decorated with episodes from Krishna Leela and borders are decorated with motifs of the atypical ‘mural flower’.” The 200-year-old handloom shop also caters to customers who want to design their own saris. Says Sobha: “We recently wove a sari that had Shiva and Parvathy painted in the mural style on the ‘pallu’. It was a painstaking process, but the customer was happy with our efforts.” A sari with mural art work is priced between Rs.3,000 and Rs.15, 000.

Magenta, blue, purple and green are the dominant colours of the season in the collection of block printed sarees at Ethnic Weaves, Paruthippara. Saris with Warli designs, borders with two colours, fusion saris with print on the ‘pallu’ and/or pleats, are all priced between Rs.1, 400 and Rs.1,800. And these are just some of the options. Standing out different from the rest are saris with coloured tissue borders.

Says Kunjumol Cyriac, proprietor of Ethnic Weaves: “Block printed saris are faring well with the customers, who always come asking for something new and something different.” The saris are woven in Hyderabad and Chennai, based on Kunjumol’s design and colour suggestions, in keeping with the pulse of the local market.

Office-goers can choose from interesting block-printed Kerala saris with gold and silver ‘kasavu’ at Czarina near General Hospital. Says Sheila James, proprietor of the boutique: “This season, we have different varieties of block prints, including ‘partly pallu’ (wherein the pallu incorporates two different designs), ascending borders and two-coloured saris.” The saris can be teamed with rich cholis and blouses in contrasting colours, which are also available at the shop. The designer boutique also has Kerala saris with brocade work that cost Rs. 3,950.

Mayukha at Ambujavilasam Road has an affordable selection of block-printed Kerala saris, priced between Rs.750 and Rs.1, 000. An unusual piece here is a golden ‘kasavu’ with alluring black and white check prints. Jayasree Surendran, partner, says: “These saris measure 6.25 metres including the blouse, which even tall ladies can wear. They can be hand-washed too.”

Onam also coincides with the wedding season and prospective brides go hunting for that exclusive sari that will make their day all the more special.

Ethnic Kerala saris and settu mundus with multi-coloured striped ‘pallus’, temple designs, enchanting mix of tissue and colours, combination of silver and gold ‘kasavu’, and full-length tissue saris are available at Karalkada.

While not quintessentially the Kerala sari, raw mango silk saris in off-white, priced between Rs.5,000 and Rs.10,000, at Ethnic Weaves are a worthy alternative. “It is good for bridal and party wear,” says Saritha G.S., store assistant at Ethnic Weaves. They come in interesting variants of gold, silver, muted gold/copper borders. Floral, polka and temple designs enhance the look of the saris.