No one does sarees better than Shilpa Shetty. It’s a statement not a question because the Bollywood diva with one of the hottest bods in the business has been reinventing the saree for sometime now. So much so that she even created her own brand, Shilpa Shetty Kundra Sarees in collaboration with Homeshop18. The collection is extremely affordable and clearly targeted to the masses capitalising on Shilpa’s immense popularity as a reality television show judge. It’s obvious that the women who watch these shows are awe struck by her finesse and expert styling of sarees so why wouldn’t they want to buy sarees created and endorsed by the star?
Shilpa Shetty was always been ahead of the curve when it came to her popularity, so while her contemporaries were still trying hard to resuscitate their own fledging Bollywood careers, she decided to take the plunge into reality television. Her first experience was on Celebrity Big Brother in the UK and the racism controversies with other housemates only elevated Shilpa’s image as that of a poised, elegant and worldly woman. It made sense for her to continue to work in the format that has brought her so much fame and adulation. She started judging dance reality shows and has never looked back. It’s no secret that the shows rely on Shilpa to bring in the glam quotient and she in turn never disappoints.
However none of this explains why Shilpa decided to take on the reinvention of the saree as her pet project. Maybe it was the one garment that let her classily flaunt those enviable abs that haven’t changed a bit after giving birth. Or maybe it was a strategy by her publicists and PR machinery to make her more relatable to the Indian audiences while still maintaining her diva image. Maybe she just loves sarees and can carry them off exceptionally well. The reasons are varied and wild and we will probably never know the right answer but we really aren’t complaining. Because Shilpa Shetty’s mad amazing saree game is giving us all kinds of inspiration for our own styling goals. She proves that there are a million ways to work the draped wonder into any wardrobe and occasion so let’s get to it, shall we?
It might be uncomfortable but remember sometimes beauty is pain and no one can deny the waist-cinching bust-shaping abilities of a corset. Shilpa Shetty proves that wearing a corset doesn’t need to make you look like an out-dated Victorian. Swap out your basic saree blouse for one and you’ve got an instant fashion upgrade.
Shilpa has worked this trend many times with the most recent being a marsala Manish Malhotra design complete with a thigh high slit and transparent corset bodice. She’s also donned a more avant-garde version by Sonakshi Raaj in black and white, styled with an equally edgy topknot plus another simpler and more lady-like blue creation by Tarun Tahiliani.
From Left to Right: Manish Malhotra, Sonakshi Raaj & Tarun Tahiliani
Shilpa might be on the quest to revolutionise the saree but that doesn’t mean she completely disregards the saree’s ethnic varieties. She had been spotted in ethnic weaves every so often but rather than wearing them in dowdy and unimaginative drapes, she works some styling magic into the standard sarees.
She took a midnight blue Amit Aggarwal brocade silk saree and draped it into a one-shoulder Grecian style dress for an awards show. There was also a modern nod to the traditional Maharastrian saree designed by Neeta Lulla. The bright fuchsia Paithani saree was completely plain but teamed with an embroidered multi-coloured blouse. The draped was intentionally more form fitting, less voluminous and topped off with a waist belt. She also wore a traditional half and half checked saree by Manish Malhotra paired with a print and colour contrasting crop top style blouse.
From Left To Right: Amit Aggarwal, Neeta Lulla & Manish Malhotra
The style maven doesn’t just work her magic with innovative draping of traditional sarees. She’s often seen in several versions of dhoti-sarees but true to form there is something unique about all of them. Just like traditional sarees, it’s fairly common to find flowy printed chiffon, georgette or net sarees in the wardrobes of many Indian women and Shilpa shows us how to elevate them without making a trip to the shops.
One of the most oomphilicious of these styles was a camouflage print saree by Shantanu & Nikhil. Worn with a dominatrix style strappy leather bodice and leggings, this creation could easily rival any mini dress or gown. Pairing a matching short slited skirt and saree with a contrasting blouse as ideated by Ragini Ahuja, is definitely another way to look elegant and carefree about walking and dancing in a saree. For something more sweet and less sassy there is the design by Roshni Chopra featuring printed coordinates with a pallu thrown over for an ethnic vibe.
From Left To Right: Shantanu & Nikhil, Ragini Ahuja & Roshni Chopra
Statement blouses might not sound as innovative for a saree reinvention idea but there is a novelty to Shilpa Shetty’s blouses that’s quite refreshing. It’s passé to wear a statement blouse with a saree that has a thick border because it’s too obvious. Instead Shilpa experiments with making the statement blouse the hero of the outfit by teaming it with absolutely bare sarees. Contrasting sarees with the thinnest of borders or shading, paired with stunning blouses are definitely her forte.
Most Indian women shy away from grey sarees for fear of looking ashy or washed out but Shilpa Shetty knows how to wear the right shade of the colour and style it with a sexy tribal inspired blouse. Designed by Nidhi Malan the blouse features thread work and tassels rather than the all-too-common metallic embroidery. Roshni Chopra created yet another ensemble in this style for Shilpa, using a shaded blue and black saree and an embroidered high neck blouse. The king of bling Manish Malhotra also did her own take on the trend but used a gold shiny saree instead. The matching blouse was encrusted with pink beads and silver crystals.
From Left To Right: Nidhi Malan, Roshni Chopra & Manish Malhotra
Tassels have become a hot favourite embellishment for many Indian designers so it seemed like a no brainer to fuse the dangling beauties with sarees. Never one to be left behind on any major fashion and saree trend, Shilpa Shetty promptly included tassels in her style repertoire. She’s worn various versions of tassel embroideries with sarees making it even more popular.
Manish Malhotra was one of the first amongst the major designers to embrace tassels in his creations so it comes as no surprised that he’s dressed Shilpa in not one but two such sarees. A baby pink organza saree with tassels on the pallu teamed with a Bardot style blouse and another nude and gold saree with a heavily embellished strapless tassel blouse. Rebecca Dewan created a deconstructed saree for Shilpa featuring a frilled dhoti skirt and a tassel embellished blouse with an attached pallu. The most minimalist use of tassels was by Shweta Kapur who paired her textured grey-black saree with a tassel and fur tie up blouse.
From Left To Right: Manish Malhotra, Rebecca Dewan & Shweta Kapur
Shilpa’s styling team may have had their pick of statement blouses to choose from but as is expected of any true fashionista, she likes to surprise her audience with completely revamped executions at times. Western shirts and tops worn with lehengas became quite the rage after being seen on the ramps of fashion weeks and it was only a matter of time before she tried the same style with sarees. The results were truly stunning and easy to replicate as long as you have something matching or aptly contrasting.
Nikhil Thampi’s fusion of a white and gold silk saree with a transparent striped off shoulder top and a skinny trouser is a smash hit for any occasion. Sonam Luthria’s pre-draped saree that looked like a shirt and skirt combo is every practical girl’s dream come true and Shilpa managed to make it look super chic as well. A fabulous Urvashi Kaur kota silk striped saree with a beige pallu worn with an exactly matching collared shirt is yet another example of how sarees don’t necessarily have to be overly complicated and constricting.
From Left To Right: Nikhil Thampi, Sonam Luthria & Urvashi Kaur
Any mention of modern sarees would be incomplete without saree gowns and with fitness fanatic Shilpa’s insane bod it would be a total waste if she didn’t wear them. She has been wearing saree gowns way before they became mainstream, even picking one during her own wedding. We’re sure the saree-loving diva can’t get enough of these comfortable yet sultry pieces just like us. It’s not surprising then that she’s worn saree gowns over and over.
She recently wore a beige Monisha Jaisingh saree-gown with deep side cut-outs, a net embellished bodice and an attached pallu and lehenga. Side-stepping flamboyant saree-gowns, she also wore a very boho chic Malini Ramani saree gown that had a mixed of bandhani and tie-dye prints. Picking something in between prêt and avant-garde, Shilpa looked dreamy in a soft lilac Falguni and Shane Peacock creation embellished with beads, tassels and fur.
From Left To Right: Monisha Jaisingh, Malini Ramani & Falguni & Shane Peacock
Sources: Highheelconfidential.com, Filmyhungama.com, Pinterest.com, Indiatoday.in, Inuth.com, Boutiquesarees.com, Pinkvilla.com, Fashionlady.in, Happyshappy.com, Peepingmoon.com