Gaining gradual popularity on the runaway and off it, sari is therefore prompted to steadily assume a funky appearance from that of a conventional ethnic costume, writes Pramita Bose.

If culture (art, music, dance) and cuisine can witness the revolution of fusion, then why can’t our clothes! And Indo-western fashion has been ruling the roost since ages. There has always been a desi twist to a phoren tale or vice versa. Add to this list, the sari affair. For the nine-yard drape never looked so uber cool, spunky and sexy as it does in a mix-n-match avatar.

Fusion Sari: Try new ways to flaunt the nine yards
Fusion Sari: Try new ways to flaunt the nine yards
Fusion Sari: Try new ways to flaunt the nine yards
Fusion Sari: Try new ways to flaunt the nine yards
Fusion Sari: Try new ways to flaunt the nine yards

Specialist in fusion saris, designer Shruti Sancheti elucidates that “the sari has been a part of the domestic wardrobe since time immemorial and that Indian woman looks best in a six-yard weave because it is a perfect attire to celebrate her curves.

In fact, the role of the outfit is dual — it flaunts your vital stats on one hand and hides flaws on the other, depending on how one drapes it around. Thus, sari is an apt garment for all Indian body-types.”

It is noticed that right from historical times, sari has found its route to the ladies’ cupboards through several stages of evolution as it is worn in many different styles, picking up and aping influences on its way.  Aamrapali, Maratha, Gujarati, Bengali, South-Indian or the tribal fashion, sari has hitherto expressed itself in myriad manners over the centuries. However of late, a plethora of diverse contemporary variations of sari-wearing has invaded the world of dressing to woo the upwardly mobile girls of modern-age.

And the result shows a huge success as many confirm to don a new-age experiment which is potentially strong to never let the wearer down. Gaining gradual popularity on the runaway and off it, sari is therefore prompted to steadily assume a funky appearance from that of a conventional ethnic costume.

From office goers to party animals, culturati to social butterflies, businesswomen and the jet-setters, the urban woman is sporting saris like a foot slips into its shoe to nicely fit in. The array of trendy, comfortable styles ranges from a stitched sari to a dhoti variety, a palazzo/parallel one to a pant/trouser styled drape. It looks so gorgeous, chic and of course, confidently au courant to a stupefied onlooker!

Sweta of famous fashion label Garo by talented designer-duo Priyangshu Maji and Sweta Tantia speaks about the difficulty that today’s dames face while managing a sari. “First of all, many are ignorant about how to wear a sari. And the trickiest areas are its knots, tangles, pallu and the pleats,” she observes.

“So in order to iron out those unwanted creases, we have often done away with the tedious tying-draping-and-inserting routine to affix the pallu over the cloth-surface, thus covering up the torso with a pair of pants seen tapering downwards from underneath.

To simulate the pleats, one doesn’t have to literally use and pain her fingers and do the job but straightaway slip into a readymade elastic dhoti which is already pleated. The properly pinned palla with enough volume smoothly falls behind, crossing a single shoulder,” she further elaborates.

“Women running a hectic schedule with busy lifestyles always wish to wrap a sari like a dress. They are on the go and in a frantic hurry. So washing off their worries, a customized sari leaps forward like a dream-cum-true solution for them,” comments this creatively versatile draper.

The chhotu (short) sari has always caught the fancy of designers as well as fashionistas alike. Remember the yesteryear screen-siren Saira Bano to cavort in a tight, knee-length, body-hugging, wide-bordered sari without pleats in the film called Shagird alongside her reel-hero Joy Mukherjee in the evergreen song, ‘Dil Vil Pyaar Vyaar Main Kya Jaanu Re’? A pair of nicely toned, slim, exposed legs oozes much oomph to the short-length sari or its more up-to-date version of a mini sari with a belt.

Innovation knows no bounds and it pushes limits to think out of the box. Reportedly, ace fashion designer Sabyasachi was visibly astounded by the beauty of this chhotu sari, usually worn by rural, tribal belles of Madhya Pradesh. It soon tickled his imagination to introduce gussets (a piece of material sewn into a garment to strengthen or enlarge a part of it) on the sari to make it more convenient for movement in it.

The Maharani sari no doubt spells a dash of regal splendour when it comes to gauging its stunning fabrics, eye-dazzling motifs and sartorial elegances. It is obviously more austere in its make, keeping the modesty of royal queens and princesses in mind. For instance, concealing their feet with a floor-kissing flair or a longer pallu to shape up the ghunghat (head and partial face-veil) well.

The traditional Assamese mekhla-chadar spreads out a regional, festive feel around it, while the Anglicised gown sari or an attractive sari wrap skirt conform to an irresistible foreign impact leaving its indelible imprints on our collective consciousness. The lehenga sari or the half-sari creating a long skirt effect, the breezy travel-friendly resort sari or an apparel-like classy zip sari — the couturiers have been there and done all that, quite effortlessly.

From her rich sari-collection replete with all sorts of fusion fundas, Sancheti fishes out three most exquisite samples to gloat over. An ombré-dyed peach pink and salmon silk sari with block prints in the middle and tie-and-dye lay-out on the pallu worn with a quilted obi belt in crimson and a shirt blouse with pockets on its sleeves is indeed a treat to watch! The second example is a woven two-tone cotton sari teamed with a multi-tinted geometric silk Pochampally trench-coat. This is too a delightful gem from her treasure-trove.

Last but not the least, a deep purple stitched sari with zippers on the waist to control skin-show with an attached, beaded boho choli is sheer magic of conceptual genius and deft tailoring skills.

“You can’t draw a definite line when it comes to selecting a fabric for the fusion saris. It could be silk, georgette, crepe, chiffon, tulle or unconventional materials like lycra, neoprene, mesh, et al,” notes Sancheti. As far as the oh-so-essential blouses are concerned, again there is no hard and fast rule over here, suggests Sancheti.

“Jackets, tees, bustiers, peplum blouses, kurtis, bralettes — I mean there are lots of options to explore if you are looking for an element of novelty,” she chips in. Sweta supplements the list with crop tops, peplum tops and tasseled tops with a series of dangling decorative knots behind.

One may judiciously choose a string of contrasting hues from the colour-wheel which gives an interesting impression and the print-on-print style is eternally green for a fusion drape, feels Sancheti. Also prints with solid dyes as in Patli Pallu style really rock! Monochromes are always a big favourite and they impart a current-day sophisticated appeal. Motifs like floral, geometric, paisley, abstract designs plus object patterns should grab the coveted attention.

Besides, digital and graphic prints are no less scene-stealers! Sweta majorly rests on a pastel palette, other than shades of red, blues, indigos, coral and peaches as the season soaks in festive flavours. Her embellished pieces are generously adorned with zariwork and sprinkles of sequins to lend that glam-factor.

“When there is a slight autumnal nip or wintry chill in the air, carrying a smart quilted jacket, an embroidered Chuga (a long jacket popular with Mughal emperors), a smart cape or a warm, protective stole is always a wise decision on the part of the fashion-savvy females,” offer style-pundits.

By the term only, fusion saris sound hip and a la mode. It’s the latest buzz on the fashion radar and quite deservedly up-to-the-minute. Owing to their lightweight, easy-to-carry and that very much ‘in-vogue’ status, a heavy burden of chunky jewellery is not really desirable to go alongwith them.

Rather an interesting statement piece alongwith a neat bag as an accessory and a great pair of heels should balance the overall get-up and work to enhance the dapper look. Footwears like stilletos, wedges, block heels or pumps would be a superb match. Sweta recommends minimalism on the jewellery front. “Smaller earrings, chokers, bracelets and costume jewellery can do the needful with sufficient amount of charm. However, all depends upon the occasion and what it exactly demands,” she opines.

Wedges and blocks should amply compliment the wearer in the shoe-segment, she thinks, and if you ask her, which celebrity actress can rightly do justice to the fusion sari, then pat comes her assertive reply: “Deepika Padukone without an iota of doubt. She is a leggy lass. Her svelte figure and that enviable tall frame are her brightest assets to claim the number one slot on this score.”

To do up the most awesome hairdos, ‘carefully careless’ is the ideal mantra. For long hair, braided and twisted messy tresses look excellent. A simple, sleek middle-parted hair is also fine. Whereas, if you wear your hair short and well-trimmed, then a textured bob or a shiny gelled look may put you a step ahead of others.

With a slew of designers including and launching such fusion forms into their collection, no wonder that they invest the same with much thoughts and efforts, thus giving the outcome their own individual spin.

So just for a change once, move over those age-old Paithanis, Kanjeevaram and Chanderi silks, Banarasis of the north, subtle south-cottons or Bengal’s taant weaves and jamdanis. For here comes the fusion sari loudly knocking at your doorstep. Take a look with your warm touch and admiration!

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