Fashions come full circle

I was watching a Hindi movie called ‘Humjoli’on TV when I noticed that the actress on the screen playing badminton was wearing a very trendy churidar –kurta and looked quite updo date in her dressing style. But this was movie from the seventies! So, I realised fashions do come full circle. The trends we see today on churidars and salwars, are no doubt stylish but were very much in vogue in the late 1960's and early seventies.

The Anarkali churidas with kurtas reaching to the ankles seen in movies like ‘Mughal e Azam’ were back again in the hindi movie ‘Hum Aapke Hain kaun’ as flowing gowns worn by the leading lady. They are back once again toady as Anarkali styled churidars - the current trend in party wear and important occasions.
What is now known as the short kurti, popularly worn over jeans today, was once the fashion statement of the 1960's. They were worn over churidars, with long flowing dupattas, quite evident in the movies of that era. The Patiala salwars which was the rage of the 1980’s was popularised once again in the 2000 era. In a number of scenes in the movie ‘Jab we met’, women are seen in the Patiala salwar.

The style in the movie ‘Maine pyar kiya’ is quite similar to the 60’s style churidar. But the churidar of the ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ heroine appears to have some western influence to it, yet the the heroine manages to look traditional. It seems to be just a remake of the old ones with modifications, to give it a newer look.

Of course every generation has its own unique sense of fashion, with slight variations in the sleeves, collar, colours and prints to make it more contemporary, including the current popularity and taste of the period, but the basic style has been retained over the years.

Nothing seems to actually go out of fashion for good. The salwar kameez or churidar kameez is today the most popular dress across all states in India. Designers give it creative twists, with their profuse imagination and make it as contemporary as possible.

Varying from the ethnic look to the trendy party style, the salwar kameez has come to suit all occasions. It is just as authentic to the Indian women as the saree.

Handloom and its importance

Handlooms bring to our mind an image of the father of our nation spinning yarn and making cloth. We have a come a long way since then, with the invention of the powerlooms, yet handloom products are an integral industry catering to a niche market.

As we all know Kanchipuram is synonymous with silk and silk sarees. Silk sarees in Kanchipuram are all products of the handloom. These sarees are famous for their softness, durability and are suitable for all climates.

Handloom silk sarees are woven with silken threads along with the metallic threads of gold and silver. Artisans work on it to produce a unique creation on the borders, the pallav and the body of the saree. In a typical Kanchipuram silk saree, the border, body and pallav are woven separately and then interlocked together.

These sarees are an effort of labour. It is a traditional art where the weavers having aquired the skills from their ancestors, pass it on to the next generation.


These handloom silk sarees are given their due importance on all festive occasions and marriages all over India.

The disadvantage of the handloom is the limited scope of designs. Certain motifs and floral creations are standard and creativity is limited to the extent possible. Yet within these limits the artisits manage to create a work of art that is exquisite and everlasting.

Today of course a range of handloom cotton sarees are also manufactured which are just as well known as the silks.

Over the years, power looms have taken over and the introduction of synthetic materials and other cotton mixed varieties of fabrics, used for a range of products, have become popular due to its durability and easily maintainable texture. Production on powerlooms is also a lot easier than handlooms.

The power loom sector produces more than 60% of cloth in India today, while the rest 40% is still handloom. Traditional looms are still utilised in large numbers due to the preference of silks and certain varieties of cotton.

Although, handloom and power loom caters to altogether different classes of consumers, in India there is still a large demand for handloom sarees and products and will continue to be so as long as traditions are upheld.


Bandhani –the art of tie and dye

Bandhani designs are among the everlasting fashions that people from every generation adore. Be it sarees, scarves, or dupattas, this is one simple format that never goes out of fashion. Bandhani is one of the oldest known methods of tie-dyeing and is still widely practiced due to its popularity.

I always thought Bandhani was far too expensive, until I realized the painstaking efforts that go into the making of the material. It dawned on me that it is well worth it.

Bandhani is native to the artisans of Gujarat, particularly Bhuj, Mandvi, Khavda, Bara, Anjar and some other parts of Gujarat which are main centres of production of tie-dye material. I had this opportunity to meet the artists and see how it was all done. I found a number of people, particularly women, working at it the whole day. A lot of women are employed to create self-sustaining organizations of skilled workers.

The term Bandhani comes from the Hindi word “bandhan” which means tying up. The process of tieing and dyeing the material is quite simple but laborious and time consuming. The cloth to be tied and dyed is spread on a wooden table and the desired designs are marked on it. The portions marked are picked and tied up at intervals depending on the design. The entire cloth is then dyed. The portions that are tied do not soak the colours and remain in their original colour - thus creating the pattern as desired.

The patterns are made up of innumerable dots which display a motif or some design when spread out. When two colours are involved, the lighter colour is dipped in the die first and then the cloth is dipped in the darker one. After the process of tying and dyeing, the cloth is washed with soft water and the knots removed.

The material used for tie and dye are usually cotton, silk and georgette. The materials absorb the colours and produce the desired effects of Bandhani as required.

Bandhani creations involve laborious efforts. Some of the revenue would surely reach the artisans who create this wondrous art.

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