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A ‘sari’ state of affairs

Posted February 14th, 2018, 10:47 AM IST

A ‘sari’ state of affairs

When it comes to wedding trousseaux, Sabyasachi Mukherjee is one of the best designers the country has produced. His sari designs have many a bride longing to be able to drape the exquisite pieces.

However, at the recent Havard India conference, the designer may have taken his love for the garment a bit too far when he shamed women who don’t know how to wear saris. Speaking to the students gathered for the event, the designer said, “I think, if you tell me that you do not know how to wear a sari, I would say shame on you. It’s a part of your culture, (you) need to stand up for it.”





While the students at the conference responded to his statement with tumultuous applause, Twitterati was aghast. Many spoke up against the harsh statement, pointing out that it should be a personal choice for every woman whether to wear a sari or not. Many also pointed out that men don’t have to face similar criticism for not donning dhotis.

However, responding to the backlash, the designer reportedly said, “What was intended to be a comment on a celebration of our clothing history and heritage, became a debate on feminism. This is not a gender issue. Since the question was about the sari, women were involved. I would take the same stand on men’s national clothing too. I have not made any statement on a woman’s choice on what she wishes to wear, which is always her own prerogative.”

Explaining further, he said that his statement had been against those women who speak about not knowing how to drape a sari with a false sense of pride. “My observation came from the fact that I often meet those who say it with a hint of pride on how they don’t know how to wear a sari and I find it very dismissive of our heritage. It’s a personal point of view,” shrugged the designer.

While Sabyasachi’s comment does hit home when it comes to a lack of pride in one’s own heritage, his fellow designers feel that he has nothing to worry about. The ever-evolving sari is here to stay — even if it becomes delegated to evening wear at dinner parties, or beachwear, as is evident from Mandira Bedi’s designer collection called Salt.

“I am a firm believer that you cannot shame people into adopting and preserving their culture; you have to seduce them into it. And Sabyasachi is more than responsible for making everything about Indian culture and couture so desirable and aspirational,” feels designer Seema Malhotra.

However, she is quick to add that shaming someone for their sartorial choice is also not the way to go. “As the mother of a young daughter, it thrills me when my daughter adorns a sari, or any other Indian wear. But I certainly would not force her into it. I would not go as far as saying shame on you for not knowing how to wear a sari,” she asserts.

Designer Gaurang Shah also points out that there is no reason to fear a loss of cultural value, since saris have only evolved to suit different occasions and definitely haven’t been discarded. “According to me, what a girl wants to wear or not is completely her choice and her comfort,” says the designer, known for his exquisite Indian wear.

“It may be that on a regular basis, the younger generation doesn’t wear saris, but when you attend any function, it is saris that you will see in every possible drape and texture, apart from the rare sight of lehenga choli,” Gaurang feels. One must evolve with the times, and saris too have changed in design. “As designers, we carry the responsibility of making fashion relevant to today’s times. I see nothing wrong in not knowing how to wear a sari especially when you want to wear it nevertheless,” states designer Narresh.

Ghosepot
Not sure if I should say this, but I suspect, most women who wear those humongously priced Sabyasachi sarees probably have five wardrobe assistants to help them put it on right. #justsaying #Sabyasachi #SareeForSabyasachi

Ishita Garg:
Oh sure. One more man telling women what they should and should not be doing.
Why is upholding “Culture” always the woman’s responsibility? #WhatWomenWant is #FreedomOfChoice #Sabyasachi #Saree #ShameOnYou #WomenWhoCantWearASaree

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