Saturday, November 2, 2002

Looks to light up your Divali
Pinky Adil

A mokaish saree looks fetching on festive occasions
A mokaish saree looks fetching on festive occasions

SINCE last Divali if there is one development designers can be proud of, it is in the area of originality. For once, they are looking "inwards" for inspiration and drawing upon their own resources, rather than adapting and adopting from western catalogues.

So there are a lot of traditional cotton weaves, hand-woven silks like tussar and textures embellished with phul butis and mokaish work flooding the market. Even western outfits like boot-cut trousers and cigarette pants are in khadi and jute. In red, yellow, purple and dark burgundy, the look is both classy and glamorous.

Antique and silver ornaments have also staged a comeback in the form of oxidised chokers, armbands, bracelets, rings, earrings and armlets. Hairstyles range from light perms and slender twirls to sophisticated designer plumage and whacky ‘art deco headgear’.


"We are suddenly witnessing a surge of creative energy on the fashion front this Divali," says Poorwi Kotak, a Mumbai-based boutique owner. "Designers are taking the risk of experimenting with new styles and looks, rather than repeating themselves or copying others."

"There’s a lot of colour in the air," observes Suman Garg, a design consultant. People have turned adventurous and are making intelligent choices on what to wear this festive season. At the same time, there is a strong tendency not to go overboard but they would prefer to stick to traditional Indian dressing."

Sarees are topmost in every woman’s choice of Divali wear. "Not only do they look colourful and right for the occasion, they offer a welcome change from the salwar-kameez and trouser-jacket routine for most urban working women," explains Kotak.

The options available here are innumerable both in material and style. For instance, crushed tissue sarees with heavy tone-on-tone embroidery are wrapped around the waist and pleated at the centre (the usual way), leaving enought length to wrap around the shoulders as a stole. Combined with a halter top embroidered with matching pearls or beads, the look is as elegant as it is ornate.

Then there are the double-saree combinations: a fully embroidered kasab net number teamed with a crushed mehndi saree in complimentary shades of dark green, blue or even red. Ideally, this is worn with a full-sleeved top encrusted with dull gold sequins and beads.

Alternatively, there is plain lurex georgette combined with net diamente drapes pleated over the left shoulder, exposing a matching lycra bustier. There’s also the big-bordered saree in cotton or silk, but with minimum embroidery, worn with a matching pearl-embroidered sleeveless blouse or silk.

Other popular saree numbers range from nine-yard georgettes worn as sarong skirts to white chiffons with pearl embroidery on the borders to crushed tissue without borders and turned over the shoulder as a stole and crushed cottons combined with metallic silver lycra tops.

For those out for a ‘bohemian look’, there are long, flowing linen gowns that have taken the place of ghagra-cholis this season. Designers like Bhairavi Jaikishan and Azeem Khan are combining these with light pistachio or ivory French lace shirts having caviar beads and swarovsky crystals.

The latest in this range is, of course, gowns with boat necks, studded with crystal and wooden beadwork. There are also one-piece gowns in velvet and lycra, besides suede tops with katav kam — a reverse hand applique tradition popular in Ahmedabad.

As for salwar-kameezes, there is a surfeit of hand-woven silk with phul-butis and mokaish work on the yoke. Quite often, embellishments on the outfit are interspersed either with kantha stiches or quilting, thereby presenting a rich canvas for the traditional crafts.

But then, ultimately, jewellery is what makes fashion statements this season. And here, it is not just gold, but exquisitely crafted copper, silver and brass that have captured the imagination of Indian women. Some are even sporting ornaments with glass enamelling and of steel and fibre glass!

In all this, the accent is on "multi-fold utility". For instance, a pair of earrings could have adjustable tops of different colours — in pearls, rubies and emeralds — to go with different dresses. Likewise, for a necklace, the pendant will be adjustable —the idea being that the base design remains unchanged while it can be worn differently, depending upon the outfit and occasion.

In non-studded jewellery, the most popular designs include rope-like entwinements, bead formations and etched pieces. There are also pieces shaped into charms — the cross, anchor, heart, pyramid, dolphins: they do not cost much, but mean a lot to youngsters — and those who believe in them! (MF)