I have great respect and admiration for Indian fashion and one of my particular favorites is the Indian sari.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

The Contemporary Indian Sari

Throughout history the west has endeavoured to have an influence on eastern culture and especially their fashions. This was apparent during the reign of Queen Victoria, when India was regarded as the jewel of the British Empire. The prudish Victorians could not help but try to dictate how the Indian sari should be worn. This was mainly to spare the blushes and uphold the moral standards of the English gentry and of course the young Queen herself. It was felt Indian ladies should be suitably attired to protect their modesty.

Apparently before the arrival of the British, the Indian sari was worn without the blouse; there was only the sari cloth itself draped around the lower body exposing the woman’s upper body and breasts. This story is somewhat controversial and other people have pointed out that there is evidence to the contrary as artworks show the Indian sari being worn over breast bands and with shawls.

In some areas of southern India documentation shows that women in many of the rural communities, up until the early 1900s, donned the sari as a lower garment worn with a head shawl leaving the breasts and midriff naked.

Today we can see, in all walks of life, evidence that in fact the east is having a far greater influence on western fashion than we seem to think. It is almost commonplace now to see celebrities wearing the Indian sari not only to attend important functions and social events in high society but also, in many western cities, women are seen shopping, taking children to school or hurrying to places of work, their chosen dress being the sari.

This picture shows Shirley McClain in a beautiful sari it looks more than appropriate for any social occasion.

The modern designers cleverly give consideration to the western woman’s life style and expectations when they create their works of art. They manage to maintain the traditional beauty of the Indian sari but also compliment it in a way that allows it to evolve with the times.

Sarah Brown the wife of the British Prime Minister, makes a good effort at being glamorous.

Here Gauri Bajoria shows “a sense of sophistication with a playful feeling for day wear”. You can see more at Sunny's Sari Dreams web site

This design from the house of Satya Paul is called “Exotica”.

As you can see, there is not only originality in the modern colours, fabrics and and designs, the way the indian sari is draped adds infinite variation to the garment.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The Art of Decorating the Indian Sari

The methods used to decorate the traditional Indian sari have inspired many beautiful arts and crafts now used in both fashion design and in decorative works of art all over the world. Batik, tie dyeing, painting and printing on fabric have all been used for hundreds of years to create the luxurious decoration seen on the sari cloth.

The wall hangings above are batik works of art and below is a contemporary creation using painting onto velvet; it is also popular to paint directly onto cotton and silk. The themes for the paintings are generally folk lore and religion; these themes are also reflected in other forms of art like jewelery making, beading and leather work. The Indian embossed and dyed leather bags are very popular in western fashion especially with the younger generation.

Of course the more expensive the cloth of the Indian sari, the more elaborate the decoration. Representational woven motifs in the shape of flowers, figures or simply geometric shapes are created as part of the sari cloth. The weaving itself is often done using different coloured warp and weft threads to create an ornamental border. Gold and silver threads are used to decorate a more luxurious sari, this is called zari work. It doesn’t end there; more decoration is added after the weaving process; beading and embroidery are used to highlight further detail.

With the introduction of modern fibres and techniques the Indian sari can now be produced much more quickly on mechanical looms. These cloths do not need to be starched or ironed and because of the polyester, nylon, or rayon content, crease resistant saris can be produced. Decoration is also done by machine but the process itself limits the complexity of the design and simplifies the decoration. Progress is not always a good thing.

Hand-woven, hand-decorated Indian saris are of course very expensive and the machine imitations are relatively cheap. The high quality hand made Indian sari is still popular for weddings and other grand social occasions.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

The Indian Sari - A Stunning Wedding Dress

A friend of mine wanted an amazing wedding dress, she couldn't’t find the dress of her dreams so she looked at the Indian sari. Believe me, she was far from disappointed. The fabrics, colours and textures could not be matched by any traditional western wedding dress; not which she could afford anyway. The one she eventually bought was not as classy as these but it was still pretty stunning. I found these pictures at "All Things Bright and Beautiful" ,

and I just can’t stop looking at them, they are absolutely beautiful.

Traditionally the Indian sari was made from silk or cotton. The more affluent women wore finely-woven, diaphanous silk saris. I heard that these were so delicate they could be drawn through a wedding ring. Poorer people had less choice they had to settle for a coarser cotton sari but all saris allowed the wearer to express an element of individuality and unique style by the way they draped the cloth.

I was surprised to discover that there is an institute of draped clothes which studies and helps to keep alive the art of draping the Indian sari. I believe it is quite a skill and there are over 100 different ways to drape.

Chantal Boulanger, a cultural anthropologist, devoted much of her life promoting the art of draping.

If your interested in the art of draping you may like to have a look at the - Institute of Draped Clothes.

The different areas of India have each devised their own particular styles of the Indian sari. They have different types of thread running through the cloth and their own distinctive colours and motifs. Each region also developed a few stitches unique to their particular style. These motifs are often representations of nature and religion and sometimes depict the lives of the ordinary people of India.

The Indian sari has been utilised as a canvas for religious embroideries; these represent religious organizations and the royal courts. In the past hand embroidery was a revered art in its own right; it had patrons just like other art forms. The beautiful embroideries created made use of gold threads known as zardosi, chikankari, kasuti and kashmiri.

Many arts and crafts have evolved as a result of the varied and beautiful decoration of the Indian sari.

If it is was too expensive to weave coloured threads through the cloth, the sari was decorated by a process known as block printing; a technique of printing onto cloth using carved blocks of wood and vegetable dyes. Tie dyeing or bhandani and batik were also used.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Indian Sari

The Indian sari is a fantastically versatile garment and at the same time it's elegant and beautiful; wearing a sari you can’t fail to turn heads. I love the fact that it can be worn by women of all shapes and sizes; it masks any imperfections giving the wearer an air of femininity and grace. Just look at its track record, it has been worn for thousands of years and will probably continue to be worn for thousands more.

The Indian sari is made up of a continual length of cloth usually four to nine metres long depending on the style in which you want to drape it. I think this has only been surpassed by the Japanese kimono which can be up to 15 metres in length. The colours available are innumerable and range from delicate creamy pastilles to vivid vibrant shocking shades of pinks and purples.

There must be over 100 different ways of draping a sari; just think you could create a different dress for every day of the year. The method most often adopted by the women in India involves wrapping the sari around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder (pallu); it then crosses over covering the chest. The length of cloth continues round and down to wrap over a petticoat, it is then pleated and neatly and tucked and draped around a blouse.

All around the world India is renown for its fashions and not least for the classic styles of the Indian sari. Indian fashions reflect the remarkable culture and heritage of the country bringing together a rich mixture of different castes and religions.

The younger generation are now greatly influences by western trends; they demand a new and fresh approach from the fashion designers who manage to successfully marry the traditional styles with modern influences creating unique and innovative fashion statements.

However they do continue to preserve the beauty and mystique of the Indian culture. If we look at what is happening in western fashion, we see evidence of the influence modern Indian sari designs are having on the western fashion scene.
India shares the same stage as the top designers of Milan and New York