The designers talk about the significance of the nine-yard drape in their design aesthetics

Just as our country has numerous cultures, traditions and languages, it has as many sari drapes. Though every state has its own draping style and weave, the soul of the fabric remains the same – humble, unpretentious and beautiful. Be it the school farewell or a best friend’s wedding, the sari holds a special place in each of our hearts. We talked to Vogue India Fashion Fund (VIFF) finalists, designer Swati Sharma (Brahmakarma) and Gaurang Shah (Gaurang) about their never-ending love for the garment.


What does the sari signify to you

Gaurang | Sari is the most beautiful creation ever introduced in the world of women’s fashion and textiles. It has an unparalleled legacy and reflects our heritage and culture in a gorgeous way. It is also the most versatile fashion piece. To a designer like me it’s timeless, inventive and enables endless experiments; unseen designs, intricacies, textures, colours and fusion possibilities. In my collection, some saris are made using khadi and others with khadi and muga or khadi and organza. We’ve tried combinations of textures for motifs as well – one floral pattern may use dupion silk and another, cotton.

Swati | The sari for me is a legacy that is passed on to generations. It’s the most timeless, elegant and versatile piece of clothing in any wardrobe. It signifies tradition and represents the variety of extremely skilled artisans across the length and breadth of our country.


What is your earliest memory of a sari

Gaurang | My earliest memory is as a young eight year old boy visiting my father’s clothing store and being completely fascinated by the sari. My inspiration was my mother who had a fabulous collection. My love for the sari continues and I feel that even today the garment has not reached its full potential in the fashion world. What is immensely satisfying though is to know that it is the fondest piece of clothing in most women’s wardrobes.

Swati | Growing up, I remember my mother draping crisp cotton saris every day. I have memories of helping my mother dry saris in the front yard of my house. She would starch them and then ask my sister and me to hold from one side; it was a weekly affair. My sister and I would not miss any opportunity to drape a sari on us, mostly when my mother would be folding the dry clothes in the evening. Every summer there would be pheriwallahs visiting door-to-door selling saris. I would sit in the verandah wowing at the gorgeous saris and often help my mother select some for her collection.


Which are your three favourite sari drapes and why

Gaurang | One of my favourites is Maharani Chimnabai of Baroda’s signature Nauvari drape, with a long jacket blouse. I also like when a sari is draped like a gown, reminiscent of the style attributed to Suniti Devi, Maharani of Cooch Behar. And, of course, the classic drape that has become synonymous after Indira Devi.

Swati | My most favourite is the nivi style. Though it is native to Andhra Pradesh, Nivi is the universal way of draping a sari today. I find it to be the most flattering and elegant irrespective of the occasion. My next preference is the Gujarati drape. It tends to show off the intricate and extraordinary pallavas of the sari, lending one a rather dressed-up look. I also love the Bengali way of draping a sari, it’s flattering and beautiful and suits all body types.


Who is your muse and how would you style a sari for her

Gaurang | Every women in this world is my muse. A sari enhances your body shape so effortlessly, all you have to do is choose the one that reflects your personality. Style icons like Kirron Kher, Vidya Balan and Sonam Kapoor have given it a whole new meaning especially with their recent adulation for handlooms which has brought the sari into fashion spotlight.

Swati | I define a ‘Brahmakarma’ woman as someone who has rediscovered the sari as a choice of clothing to be worn regularly, as she finds comfort in it and feels beautiful and confident wearing one. She doesn’t think of sari as occasion wear. She effortlessly wears a sari to work and goes about her day as easily as she would in a pair of jeans. Mini Mathur and Maria Goretti are my muse for the way they carry themselves in a sari, which reflects a certain ease that only comes from habit.


If a woman is looking to invest in your label, where should she start

Gaurang | A lasting investment would be in a Jamdani weave called ‘Tree Of Life’ or a traditional double ikat patan patola. At ’Gaurang’, we have a sari to suit every occasion. Every piece is a classic as long as it is worn with absolute confidence.

Swati | I would definitely recommend my signature flip-pallu sari. It’s a unique creation and my labour of love made with double cloth weave. It’s also an interesting amalgamation of prints and colours.

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