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Updated: September 26, 2009 20:30 IST

New saris for old

MARIANNE DE NAZARETH
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SENSATIONAL The sari in its transformed avatar
SENSATIONAL The sari in its transformed avatar

The traditional six yards are being re-invented like never before

Cut work on the pallu and border of a traditional Kanchipuram sari. Hand block printing on sombre, golden tussar silk. Stones, sequins, feathers and chords making up the pallu of a net sari. Designers in Bangalore seem to have gone to town with the good old sari, giving it a contemporary twist, using traditional fabrics with a creative slant at every fashion show in the city.

A symbol of grace, the sari is also gaining popularity for the freedom of interpretation that it offers, both to the wearer and the designer. And seemingly, with this creativity unleashed, the cash registers are ringing out loud and clear. The sari has never been more in fashion, than it is today.

A ‘designer sari’ in the 80’s was the zipped up wonder Zandra Rhodes created for the international ramp and which died an almost shock-horror instantaneous death.

In 2008 Jean Paul Gaultier revamped the sari for the fashion house Hermes, in his Spring/Summer Collection. But it has taken our own Indian designers to use dying art forms and traditional embroideries from across the length and breadth of rural India to finally change the face of the traditional sari. Change it just enough to appeal to the modern Indian woman.

Ramesh Dembla sings odes to the sari in every one of his Krishna Dembla fashion shows. “For me the sari is the most feminine garment to drape an Indian woman in. My clients want ‘head-turners’ and my designs with the sari do just that,” he says.

Using a combination of chords, lace and feathers on a pallu, Ramesh matches the body of the sari with metres of embroidered net. Then he uses a white and silver brocade sari skirt, which shows through the net, for the final genteel, yet glitzy overall appearance.

“The choli must compliment the sari,” adds Ramesh so he uses faux stones from Hong Kong and sequins to give the finishing touch to the ensemble. His saris are ordered by clients from around the globe.

Mother and daughter designer duo Neeta and Chandra at their sari boutique Sakhi, use traditional crafts like Kalamkari, badla, mirror work and chamki on traditional silks like Kanchipurams and Tussars to create contemporary ensembles which appeal to the woman about town.

“Kanjeevarams were considered the sari for the older woman, but I work with the weavers creating a half and half design in two striking colours and embellish it with intricate cut work, detailed with tissue applique,” says Chandra showing off her modern Kanchipuram creation. Intricate floral tissue cutwork separates the violet top colour from the mustard bottom. The luxurious silk seems to take on a life of its own with Chandra’s creativity. “We work a combination of modern elements together with traditional weaving to get our unique look,” they say.

And so, the sari, that quintessential Indian garment, has evolved in many ways and yet, remains as constant as ever, with designers reinventing it in styles, to appeal to the urban Indian woman.

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