India's traditional six-yard wonder is igniting imaginations anew. The sari, say fashion designers, can be worn over a pair of jeans or jazzed up with a sexy slim belt for a trendy look.
Designers like Tarun Tahiliani and Nida Mahmood showcased the sari in new avatars at the recently concluded Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) here. What's more, young girls are all for these innovative styles.
Kanika Rastogi, 19, says she was resisting the idea of wearing a sari for her sister's wedding for the fear of looking older until she saw models flaunting Tahiliani's saris with a belt.
"I would never have thought of wearing a sari for my sister's wedding. I didn't want to look old. But when I saw models wearing saris with belts, I thought it would make me look really cool. So that's just what I am going to do now - save money by not buying an expensive lehenga and wear a sari stylishly instead," Rastogi said.
When asked about his innovative accessorising of the traditional outfit, Tahiliani said: "Belts can be used over saris by slim and tall people. It accentuates the waist, looks sexy and adds style as well as youthfulness to the outfit."
The designer, who is making Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty's wedding trousseau, says adding a silver or gold belt - a modern alternative to the good old 'kamarbandh' - over a sari also gives a Greek look to the attire.
"The Indian and Greek styles of dressing are all about draping and very similar. They usually wear waist bands over gowns so these belts work to add that extra bit of Indo-Western look to a sari," he said.
Young designer Nida Mahmood says it's the coolest thing to wear saris over jeans - a fashion statement she herself made at WIFW.
"The idea of wearing saris over jeans is my interpretation of wearing a sari in a trendy manner. This is a trend that youngsters can follow for any casual party. It looks very good, especially if you are carrying the outfit with the right accessories and look," Mahmood said.
Others like Jai-Parvesh and Hemant-Nandita also have suggestions to make. Both designer duos swear by pre-pleated and lehenga saris, which are easy to wear and carry at the same time.
While pre-pleated saris are like skirts with pleats stitched on to them, lehenga saris have a flowing silhouette (kali) below, and has a heavy pallu replacing a well-draped dupatta on the left shoulder.
Said Jai: "Young girls look for easy attires these days. With something like a pre-pleated sari or a lehenga sari, one doesn't need to be bothered about pleating a sari. You just have to slip in or tuck it at one place. That's what is attracting a lot of girls these days."
Twenty six-year-old Sonakshi Sharma seconded the idea. She said, "Who has the time and patience to visit a parlour each time before going to a wedding just to get a sari draped? So these sort of attires work well. Just wear it as if you are wearing a skirt - and you look decked up without much ado!"