Actor Kirti Kulhari and Madhuri Dixit in fusion versions of sari.
Actor Kirti Kulhari and Madhuri Dixit in fusion versions of sari.

When saris make for a sorry sight: Fun fusion or just plain weird?

Mindless fusion often kills the essence of saris. We take a look at contemporised saris that look more weird than wonderful to us.
Hindustan Times | By Prerna Gauba
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2018 07:01 PM IST

Actor Vidya Balan once said, “I enjoy the sari. I think it’s the sexiest garment ever. It shows you the right amount, it covers the right amount. It’s extremely versatile, it suits every body type, and it suits every face.” She is right indeed. Saris do spell effortless elegance.

But, over the years, saris have undergone several makeovers. From lehenga saris to sari gowns, the traditional Indian garment has been reinvented in interesting pre-stitched forms. Sari has also popped up on the international runway in various innovative avatars. Hermes, Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier and many other global brands have presented their version of the modern sari. Many Bollywood actors such as Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Sonam Kapoor, Kalki Kochlein , and Mini Mathur have been seen experimenting with saris.

Pairing saris with crop tops, button down shirts or a chic belt adds a dose of freshness to the look. And some fashionistas have also taken to saris, paired with tops having exaggerated sleeves,and dhoti drapes. No pleat saris and even saris with dupatta-style drapes are also doing the rounds. Well, there’s plenty of scope when it comes to experimenting with saris. But, what happens when the experimentation makes them look weird? What happens when ‘reinvented saris’ don’t look like saris at all? Over the top experimentation kills their essence. Experts say it is fine to tweak saris, but we must know where to draw the line.

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“If we don’t make the garment more appealing for the younger lot, soon it will become extinct. But, make sure that you don’t end up making the garment look bizarre,” says artist Alka Rani Singh, whose work include reviving traditional saris of Awadh (UP). Designer Tanira Sethi agrees, “I believe that it is okay to innovate but make sure it makes the sari look appealing.”

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Designer Rina Dhaka says that there are chances that one ends up demolishing the actual look of the sari. “It’s important to keep the construction simple and not take away from the [original] aesthetics. A little change works, but overdoing it is never a good idea,” she says. It is best not to call an attire a sari, if it doesn’t look so, feels designer Rahul Mishra. “A pre-stitched sari or a sari gown doesn’t classify as a sari. A sari is defined as an unstitch fabric, so most interpretations can’t be called saris; they are more like ‘sari-inspired’ or ‘sari lookalikes’. There is nothing wrong in expressing your creativity if it doesn’t hurt the eyes,” says Mishra.

Mini Mathur and Shilpa Shetty Kundra in fusion saris.
Mini Mathur and Shilpa Shetty Kundra in fusion saris.

However, president of Fashion Design Council of India, Sunil Sethi, says, “History shows that different states, districts and towns have different draping styles. The sari has evolved over the last 100 years and these interpretations are a part of it. For the young generation, adaptations are cool.”

Designer Ritu Kumar says, “Pre-stitched and pre-pleated saris are practical and easier for the younger generation to wear, without worrying about it unraveling. I appreciate the classic aesthetics of sari. And, it does have the potential to be customised.”

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