By this point, you probably have caught a whiff of Gaultier’s Fall Couture presentation. The theme was ski culture and among the pieces inspired by exotic and glamorous chalets, skiing destinations and the jet-set who frequent them, were those that were inspired by the sari. And you couldn’t miss them.
The sharply tailored black number worn with white stacked bracelets and a matching choker was an instant favorite. Sign me up for the après-ski cocktail hour. The other black draped dress with thin beaded border instantly reminded me of a Schiaparelli from the thirties. This tells you, much like the Grecian toga, the sari has inspired fashion through the ages. Both fabrics from ancient cultures/civilizations with distinct and distinguishing drapes.
Jean Paul Gaultier Couture 2017
Jean Paul Gaultier’s clothes have a certain whimsy, a sort of magnified alternate fairy-tale reality to them. And so, looking to India for inspiration doesn’t surprise me. Back in 07, it was royalty that did the trick.
Jean Paul Gaultier Couture 2007
Coming back to the sari, it’s been a garment that has always caught couturiers’ attention. Schiaparelli did a draped black number in the 30s, a silhouette which was revised again more recently in 2015. At that time (30s-60s), the sari much like the cheongsam hinted at fetishizing of the ‘exotic’ East by the West. Between that and romanticizing royalty and colonialism, the sari, an elegant garment by itself got the nod of approval to be reinterpreted for the western palette from the upper echelons (and couture buyers).
Schiaparelli 2015 And The 30s, Yves Saint Laurent 80s And The 60s
It’s easy to see the sari’s appeal… The drape is open to designer’s interpretation and even in it’s simplest, unadulterated form, open to the wearer’s. And perhaps, universally flattering.
Balenciaga Early 60s, Christian Dior 1955, Alexander McQueen 2008, Marchesa 2013
After seeing a picture of Hepburn in Life magazine’s May ’62 issue, Jackie Kennedy asked Oleg Cassini to create a version of the original Hubert de Givenchy design for her. She wore the pink sari-inspired silk chiffon (beaded with porcelain and rhinestones) gown to a White House state dinner honoring President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan in 1963. Incredible how the dress seems just as timeless today (could be the Hepburn-Kennedy effect too)!
Audrey Hepburn In Givenchy, Jacqueline Kennedy In Oleg Cassini
However, it hasn’t always been only saris. Other silhouettes, textiles and craft have heavily influenced designers outside of India as you will see in a snapshot of images below. The sari though is just a tad more special. The garment is uniquely dependent on its wearer. Each time it lends itself to the aesthetic of the wearer, both in how it is draped and styled.
Among the young in India, saris are not as popular. But that is beginning to change gradually. Re-interpreted silhouettes, sari-inspired gowns are like gateway drugs to the real thing. And every time a designer is influenced/inspired by it, it’s a notch for Team Sari. This timeless garment needs its due and it’s happening, albeit bit by bit. Have you heard of The Sari Series? We are thrilled to announce we are associate producers on one of the How-To-Drape films and can’t wait for you all to see it. We love our saris and are so excited to be able to lend our support in a small way! Yay saris! And that’s Sari, not sorry.
Elie Saab Couture 2016, Isabel Marant 2016
Photo Credit: Life Magazine, Style.com, Vogue, Met Museum