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

Monday, 18 February 2008

Indian Sari Silk

Traditionally the silks for the manufacture of the Indian Sari cloth are manufactured from the cocoons of the mulberry silkworm (Bombyx mori) raised in captivity. The silk produced is woven from a continuous thread which is unravelled from the cocoon before the moth has emerged. Keeping the thread intact produces a strong light cloth with a reflective sheen which can be dyed with the rich vibrant colours desired for the Indian sari. Unfortunately the silkworm pupae die in order to keep the cocoons whole.

For hundreds of years wild silks have been produced in limited amounts but, because the cocoons are damaged by the emerging moths the silk threads are much shorter and the cloth produced is thought to be of an inferior quality. Through the ages the rich have demanded the elegant sensuous fabric produced from the farmed silkworm cocoons; it has been the fabric most associated with wealth and success.

The Ahimsa silk is a soft, luxurious breathable fabric which looks every bit as beautiful as the traditional sari silk but perhaps with less sheen.

A sari fabric has been developed by Kusuma Rajaiah which can be made without killing silk worms. The fabric is called ‘Ahimsa silk’, it has been in production since 2001 and it is already in great demand in the US, Europe, Japan and Australia. There is an interesting article about it in the Deccan Herald. The article reports that Ahimsa silk has yet to grow in popularity in India. I believe it lacks the rich lustre of traditionally produced silks but it is beautifully soft to the touch and luxurious to wear. To animal lovers and those who may be ecologically minded, the luxury of having the smooth shiny silk Indian sari is perhaps not as important as the preservation of the silk worm. I suppose, for others, it will eventually come down to personal preference.

As an alternative to silk there are now some beautiful fabrics available which have their own unique look and luxurious quality. For an elegant accessory to any party outfit look at this Sari Wrap in patterned georgettes self designed fabric.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Shoes for the Indian Sari

Shoes to wear with the Indian Sari

To really accentuate the flowing folds of the Indian Sari you should only wear authentic Indian shoes with it. There are of course numerous ‘westernised’ styles available but once you have seen the hand made leather Indian Khussa/Jutti shoes nothing else quite has the same appeal. I saw these beautiful examples at Farida’s Passions it is worth a look, they would compliment the finest Indian sari.

As with the Indian sari the Indian shoes differ in style from region to region.The Punjabi Juttis take their name from the state of Punjab where they originated; they are now available in shops all over the world. Their craftsmanship reflects the intricacy of a finely decorated Indian sari; they are often embroidered with coloured threads incorporating beads and pearls. These soft leather shoes are usually slip-ons with a flat heel and with backs coming high up the ankle. The heel is mirrored in the front of the shoe as it flows over the foot finishing at an elegant toe.

The traditional footwear of Rajasthan are the Mojari which look distinctly royal and are renowned for their comfort. They are made from a wonderfully soft light leather which moulds to the shape of the foot; the more they are worn the more comfort they give.

The district of Kolapur is where the hand made Kolhapuri Chappals originated, these are the popular sandals so often worn by western women. They are extremely versatile and as well as being worn with the Indian sari they compliment the Kurta beautifully; in the west they don't look out of place simply worn with jeans.

You can indeed wear any shoes with your sari but when you look at the styles of shoes that are traditionally made for the garment it is hard to consider wearing anything else. These unusual shoes can be seen at Maple Clothing, they would add to the beauty of any Indian sari and at the same time would be flattering and comfortable for the wearer.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Indian Sari Accessories

Accessories in Indian fashion, are used in the same way as they are in any culture, to adorn the wearer and to help transform a garmet into one suitable for the occasion. We use accessories to accentuate the desired qualities of the Indian sari in exactly the same way a student would use belts and jewellery to dress up a pair of denims to create the right look for a formal gathering.

Some traditional Indian jewellery can however have a religious or a specific cultural significance. In certain Indian communities a gold or glass bangle is worn by a married woman to safeguard the well-being of her husband and sons. The designs adorning the bangles, as with the decoration to the Indian sari cloth, is often taken from nature, the stars and the moon.

Toe rings were traditionally worn on the second toe of either foot. They were believed to be an important accessory to be worn by married women
. They continue to be worn to accessorise the Indian sari but are also now regarded as trendy and stylish jewellery by women of all ages.

Nowadays, toe rings are particularly popular with western women and internationally they are worn as a high fashion accessory. They are worn in the west singularly or in multiples of odd and even numbers while in India they are usually worn in pairs.Toe rings are, as seen in the picture, adjustable and can be made of gold, silver or an alloy. They are usually decorated with natural forms and I have seen some beautiful examples of enamelled rings. I expect the enamelling causes the ring to be less pliable but the effect of the colour is striking.

Anklets are another item of jewellery often worn with an Indian sari. For a long time they were made from silver or brass but as they too have become more popular they are produced as items of designer jewellery in more expensive metals and adorned with intricate decoration. Although we think of anklets being of traditional Indian origin, they also had specific spiritual and cultural significance in
Egypt and the Middle East.

I must make a reference to the beautiful matching necklace and ear ring sets; the Indian kundan jewelery worn by the bride and bridesmaids at a wedding. There are some fantastic immitations available equally as elaborate as the real thing. I saw these at Fusion Jewels. They would flatter any indian sari. They range from being very intricate and multi-jewelled to being quite modern in appearance and of a more classic design.

Other popular accessories worn with the Indian sari include the intricately decorated hand bags. These are embroidered often with beadwork which can incorporate pearls, precious metals and other jewels. The bags can be bought in complementary colours or matching colours to the sari cloth; the different elements of the outfit, sari, jewellery and bag, appear to have been designed as one.

To read more about traditional Indian jewellery, its history and origins and to get some great ideas on complimentary accessories for your Indian sari go to Indian gifts and handicrafts.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Wearing a Red Indian Sari

Would you wear red, would you wear an Indian sari or would you go one further and wear a red indian sari. In western culture you may need to be a confident woman to feel comfortable wearing a red indian sari yet in the east it is one of the most popular garments for a women to wear even on her wedding day.

Throughout history eastern women have always worn red with grace and elegance. In the north of India red is a colour symbolizing auspiciousness and is worn in the hope it will bring future good luck and success.

In the 1800s, during the reign of Queen Victoria, to wear red was distinctly frowned upon. Red was once a colour symbolising wealth and luxury in England but it became a colour which would only be worn by loose women. It is only relatively recently that European women have begun to adopt red again.

The women of America are also now being more creative; choosing to marry in red and also choosing the Indian sari as their wedding garment. A wedding dress like the one in the picture would certainly make your wedding day a day to remember.

Western women are not only getting married in the Indian sari, it is now being worn more and more as an every day garment. The sari can be dressed up by choosing a cloth with rich colours and complex designs or by adorning it with delicate jewelery to accentuate the flowing lines. It is also possible to dress down a sari by going for the simpler draping styles and by opting for the plainer fabrics. Whichever way you wear it and whatever colours and designs you choose, the Indian sari is definately a very flattering garment for any woman. You can see this in the following youTube video; I hope it inspires you.