Designer Sujatha Srinivasan introduced creative possibilities with Madurai Sungudi to make it more chic and trendy

It was a private evening for INTACH members and their friends at co-convener M.D.Vel’s house. Everybody was asked to spare “a thought” for Madurai that would reflect their sense of belonging to the city. From concerns over water shortage to greenery and proper disposal of garbage, from jasmine to history, they all articulated what defines the city today.

One thought that every guest carried back home that night was revival of the city’s exquisite tie-and-dye craft, the Sungudi. And it was ushered in unexpectedly with a mini-fashion show in the living room!

Three men and three women, a little girl and a little boy – all family and friends of designer Sujatha Srinivasan -- wore her creations and sashayed on the makeshift ramp.

Though a small and private attempt, the evening marked an innovative beginning for the fabric which is interwoven with the city’s tradition. With the right kind of marketing and patronage, the Sungudi can regain its pre-eminent position. As part of the Maamadurai Potruvum, the District Administration declared February 8 each year would be celebrated as Sungudi Day.

It is a fabric cool enough for the tropics, affordable and easy to maintain, but Sungudi is usually associated with women of an earlier generation. Sujatha has given it a makeover, and on this day she presented the colourful dots in an ensemble of new designs.

A violet Sungudi pleated skirt and a green top with chord embroidery and cotton zari borders presented a smart yet traditional paavadai-chattai look.

Flowing palazzo pants in a subtle beige teamed well with a white top and accessories. Overalls in red Sungudi triggered limitless options. The fabric and design were perfect as daily wear for active kids, both indoors and outdoors.

Bright, catchy and colourful was the blue Sungudi dyed with tinges of copper sulphate. It made for a perfect beach outfit with a set of white cotton trousers.

A classic orangish-brown kurta with hand embroidery in cream showed how men could also start experimenting with Sungudi. Apart from being subtle and classy, it is comfortable enough for regular wear and ethnic enough for important occasions.

The brief show gave the traditional Madurai attire a space unto itself. And all the guests left convinced that Sungudi has to be kept alive with the involvement and support of all.