These promotional postcards (the Modern Glass House in Bombay) from around the 1930s, are a nicely contrasting pair: One girl is very simple and soft, outdoors with floral elements, while the other is trendy, educated and bejewelled. The saree colours are also completely different.
The print shop was a calendar company, so these are likely smaller version of current pin-up girls. Were I younger, slimmer and living back then, I’d choose the green and blue outfit, as it would suit my style, personality and colouring far better than the sloe-eyed garden sylph in peach. I love peach and apricot tones, but look dreadful in them.
And I must admit that I also love rainy days, so the urban lady’s red and blue umbrella-as-accessory just tickles me!
Ruth Saint Denis (1879 – 1968) embodied many goddess in her time as a dancer, including Radha, Quan Yin, Ishtar, and Isis, just to name a few. Among many photographs of her posing in sarees, this particularly one stood out because of the saree blouse. All those “beads” sewn on her blouse, could they be pearls??
Totally fun item today to help celebrate: A Japanese obi to wear with your sar… uh, your kimono! Among the interesting foreign people and art to show up on similar Nagoya obis are Indian women and picturesque groups that include men and elephants, and all things Egyptian. Hieroglyphic characters do look especially nice.
This obi has a bold look, primary colours on a rich, brick fabric that appears hand woven. The photo above shows the folded knot for the back of the obi. And of course, the design for the front shows an Indian lady with the requisite fashion accessory – a large water pot.
There are very few fashionable garments that are as enduring as the saree. It is a true classic – virtually the same today as it was a century ago, or even five hundred years into the past. This detail from a painting shows the wives of wealthy merchants in Cambay (now Gujarat), looking a lot like the cute movie actresses with pottery jars that I’ve posted here before. It has a sweet folk-art look, and clearly shows the ladies in hand-woven sarees, contrasting cholis with elbow-length sleeves, stacked bangles and large earrings.
What’s so amazing is that this is from just over 500 years ago! The artist/explorer was Ludovico De Varthema, an Italian who was one of the earliest visitors to India to make an illustrated study of his journey along the coasts. His book, published in Rome in 1510, was also the first best-selling travelogue in history. I love the women’s faces and dainty toes, their neatly draped pallus, and the flowers that look kind of like iris.
Sunny is a designer in Los Angeles. He loves the fluidity and fluency of a saree and believes that when a woman wears a saree, she not only adorns her body but she also adorns her soul. His design ethos is that “simplicity never goes out of style.”
Indrani is a video journalist in Kuala Lumpur. She seamlessly blends east and west by doing the Bharat Natyam steps and Tango, without missing a beat. She has an infectious smile, a youthful sense of the fashion and a timeless sense of the style.
Rupa Gupta: A writer, editor and journalist, Rupa has been in the media for more than two decades. She has worked as Editor with major publications, both in India and abroad. a keen eye for fashion and current trends. Her sense of aesthetics transcends the hype and always finds the true beauty.
Liza Varma is a former Femina Miss India and well known model in Delhi. Today, she is a leading Fashion Choreographer with over 1000 shows to her credit in India and abroad. She is also a member of the Fashion Design Council of India and a Consultant with Shoot Talent Management. Her client list is the who’s who of Indian fashion industry.
Misty is a student in London and has her fingers on the pulse of London fashion industry.
Abhi is a student in San Francisco and showcases sensuous saree pictures.
Kamini is a model in Los Angeles and loves to accentuate the best a saree has to offer.