The contemporary saree comes back to suit the modern day woman, or doesn't it?
As recent as a hundred years ago the saree was a one-piece garment, entirely gravitational. Readers of Amitav Ghosh's The Glass Palace will recall the incident where the Queen of Burma invites the young wife of an Indian civil servant in order to learn how to wear the saree with a blouse and petticoat. The real life inspiration for this fictionalised account was perhaps Jnanadanandini Devi, the wife of Tagore's elder brother, Satyendranath Tagore, the first Indian to join the civil services. In Bengali circles, it is widely believed that her husband's desire to bring Devi out into the public domain led to the innovation of the blouse and the petticoat.
As for today - There have been two major saree styling trends in recent years. The first has been towards excessive embellishment. So, at the high end of the spectrum we have crystals, zircons and embroideries - In what is perhaps the most telling sign of how material our times have become.
The second trend has been a shift of emphasis from the sari drape to the blouse fitting. Encased in metallic conical bustiers and shining silver, copper and gold brocade, glinting variously, the wearer's breasts occupy centre stage - primed and polished like cannons, ready to fire.
But the question that should be asked is why then are fewer and fewer women opting for Sarees and switching to salwar suits, trousers and tracks?
Our recent fashion choices may have a lot to do with the imminent demise of the saree. The spirit of the saree is the spirit of peace, of letting be, of accommodating. The language of the times is that of dominance. Earlier modifications with the saree adapted it to the spirit of the times but the balance still weighed in favour of the drape, the flow, the yieldingness of it. Recent changes have tipped the balance to the point that it no longer works.
If the saree is to come back to become a must have in everyday wardrobes, fabrics will need to become soft and of the essence and will the blouses - which also goes for fit! In that topic sarees will also need to be styled as a 'wardrobe staple' in a world where the freedom mix and match has become an overlooked luxury. And one last thing, please don't forget to add functional cummerbunds - think lip gloss, money, mobiles and car keys.
Not so long ago young women swam and practiced sports, which probably meant they also cooked, nursed babies, gone shopping, maintained a household, made love those same sarees. Wouldn't it be to see that happen again, this goes to all the young girls out there, as well as designers: Help bring sarees back to their everyday grace!