From ready-to-wear to pre-draped saris, the versatile five-yard fabric has undergone numerous innovations in the past. Is it now time to turn back and embrace it in its pure form? Leading fashion designers share their views
A sari is probably the only piece of garment that finds pride of place in both an Indian grandmother’s, as well as her granddaughter’s wardrobe. And maybe that’s the reason the sari has undergone numerous innovations over the years. From ready-to-wear to pre-draped saris, many different renditions of the garment exist today. Indian fashion designers, too, have not shied away from experimenting with the five yards. But amidst all this experimentation, have we forgotten the charm of the original style of draping the sari? Is it now time to turn back and embrace it in its original form? Fashion designer JJ Vallaya agrees: “Absolutely. The use of gimmickry is a fad, and fads last for a while, but eventually, the sari is to Indians what the gown is to westerners. And that’s what we should be flaunting to the world.”
Shantanu of fashion designer duo Shantanu & Nikhil, on the other hand, differs: “I don’t think it’s time to go back to the original form. The different innovations of the sari only make it more epic. We were, in fact, the first ones to give the sari a little bit of an edge with the sari-gown, which was pre-pleated, pre-draped and worn with leggings. You can never take tradition out of a sari, but you can tweak and bring some contemporary emotion to it.”
This dichotomy was on full display at Vogue India’s Sari 24/7 show at the recently-concluded Amazon India Fashion Week Autumn Winter ’17 in New Delhi. The show saw more than 50 interpretations of the sari under five themes: Blues, Pretty Florals, Tribal, Gold Embellishments and Gothic. From quilted saris, traditional weaves and drapes to party-ready versions, cool-girl casuals and other modern interpretations using fabrics like jersey crêpe, the show successfully highlighted the diversity of the garment. Apart from JJ Vallaya and Shantanu & Nikhil, other participating designers included Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla, Anavila, Masaba Gupta, Nachiket Barve, Raghavendra Rathore, Raw Mango by Sanjay Garg, Rahul Mishra, Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna, Masaba Gupta, Shantanu & Nikhil, Shivan & Narresh, Tarun Tahiliani, Dhruv Kapoor, etc.
The fashion week also saw a renewed focus on handloom textiles, with designers delving into the different ways the handloom industry can be revived. “It’s a very unorganised field, so weavers need financial security. You also need to innovate with the fabric to make it more appealing to buyers,” opined designer Sanjay Garg.