WeaverStory explores the indulgent wardrobes of four iconic women and how the six-yard drape becomes the common denominator in all.
Is there anything more power-packed than a woman in a saree? A fluid piece of fabric that is both eternal and ever-changing. Traversing every curve and every flaw, the saree moulds not just the wearer in its shape-shifting silhouette but also in its deep-rooted history, woven ever so crisply in warp and weft. A saree, or sattika in Sanskrit, is a piece of clothing that not only covers the body of the feminine form but has also draped the endearing souls of our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers. It’s a piece of history. A cloth imbued with years of freedom, defying social constructs, and a collective of emotions.
As the saree holds our years of crafts and techniques in each of its folds and hemlines, we remain forever indebted to its timeless appeal and classic silhouette. In India and across borders, thousands of women find comfort and ease in this versatile piece of garment, wearing it to work or dressing up their daughters on their big day. From manual workers to lawyers, doctors, and CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies, the saree has been a friend to all. So, what makes this ancient piece of cloth a favourite among all these women?
Below we have four extraordinary women who have sought comfort in this beautiful drape, and the saree has now become a permanent settler in their humble closet.
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Glorious glistening drapes, heavy jewels, dark lips, a bindi, and that bold streak of sindoor—-Rekha ji’s signature look is iconic, to say the least
Maharani Gayatri Devi
Rajmata, more popularly known as Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur, is crowned one of the most influential fashion icons of the country who was never seen without her string of pearls, parked beautifully around her delicate neck. She was an ardent lover of luxe, diaphanous chiffons, which her mother, Maharani Indira Devi of Cooch Behar, was the first to wear as a saree. The princess of Jaipur had very well created a template for what we call an elegant woman today—soft, pastel-hued chiffon sarees paired with a string of pearls or gemstones and minimal makeup— and she firmly credits her graceful persona to her royal upbringing. “I learned style from my mother—she was one of the most fashionable, most independent, and most modern Maharanis ever. She always knew the best places to buy anything, and she shopped all over the world,” said the late Rajmata.
If you love lightweight chiffon sarees with some texture and embroidery, try adding Maharani Gayatri Devi to your mood board. And keep it timeless and simple by adding a pearl choker just like the princess ordered.
With the saree as our national garment, you expect nothing less inside the former first woman prime minister’s wardrobe. Indira Gandhi was not just a strong and dedicated politician but also a powerful fashion icon—an inspiration to many girls in the country. She didn't wear sarees as a sign of femininity, but as a sign of power, wearing them with authority while keeping alive the drape's versatility. From handwoven Banarasi silks to South Indian cotton, she styled them in all the beautiful ways the saree is draped across different parts of the country. And even though she preferred to wear sarees most of the time, her wardrobe was a clear mix of strong silhouettes in fluid fabrics that also included trench coats.
A great way to capture Gandhi’s aesthetic into your wardrobe would be by mixing blazers with neutral-coloured sarees. Maybe add a belt to style it further?
Vidya Balan has expressed her love for handloom sarees by embracing the six-yard drape in varied weaves, patterns, and textures. By making a strong case for going #VocalForLocal, her roster included several sarees made by local, homegrown brands that support weavers. “Weavers are the best designers. They know the limitations of the humble loom and hence make innovations within those limitations,” said the forty-four-year-old actor in one of her Instagram captions. If you scroll through the actor’s feed, you’ll find gorgeous silk Banarasi sarees with Kadhwa booti and Paithani borders or pure silk Kanjivarams with beautiful zari detailing. Her display also includes a rotation of ivory linen sarees and multi-hued madras checks, among many others.
Author- Haiqa Siddiqui