Nostalgia is a powerful tool. It let’s us remember and appreciate the past after all. Growing up in the 80s was a mixed bag. Young girls in South India had more clothing options than ever. On one hand there were traditional outfits like pavadai-chattai or dhavani, anarkali, ghargra, sharara, churidar, salwar kameez while it was becoming increasingly acceptable for girls to wear pants, pinafore, skirts, maxis and frocks. And yet, despite the popularity of Western clothes, the pavadai or long Indian skirts found a special place in every girl’s wardrobe. Crafted from the best kanchipuram silks, much like our mom’s pattu pudavai, these outfits were custom tailored to fit.
Nostalgia is a powerful tool. While as little girls we pranced and danced away happily in our silk pavadais, it only reminded our moms of their childhood. Back when their wardrobe consisted only of pavadais paired with blouses and later dhavanis. Clothes back then were meant to last. And they did. The handwoven cottons and silks stood the test of time quite literally. They were often handed over several times before getting up-cycled. Color options were limited but the silks had a certain sheen that seemed to only get better with wash.
As designers we can not look away from the past. While trend watching is fun and incorporating trends is great for business, setting the trend is key. We have consciously looked at incorporating traditional elements and giving them a modern twist. Whether it’s a weave or an outfit.
Styling is easily fifty percent of an outfit. Let us explain why styling is such a key factor. We all have a personal style. Let us say, we prefer a traditional look over a modern one. Even a modern outfit can be given a traditional touch. Likewise, a traditional outfit can be made to look casual if styled right.
Take for instance this elegant look we put together for a shoot. Our designer Soorya Krishna is seen in a traditional outfit. Needless to say, her styling is classy and traditional. The skirt however has been tailored out of vanasingaram brocade fabric. While the design itself is not new to weavers, we made the choice to get this yardage woven without borders to make a modern day pavadai. The bright aubergine silk get a subtle contrast in the cement grey silk dupatta. Again, the silk dupatta lends the grandeur to the outfit from the brilliant bavanji style border and ends. To keep the outfit classy and timeless, a long sleeve blouse has been paired. Traditional gold jewellery complete the look along with prominent kohl and lipstick. While the outfit itself is a modern interpretation of a very traditional look, the styling has been kept consciously traditional – befitting a wedding or festival perhaps.
While this look works well for festivities, can silk outfits work for a more casual setting? Vijayalakshmi Krishna opts for a more casual look with her skirt outfit. The outfit itself features a skirt with bold annapakshi motifs. Purists may claim this is a traditional outfit. And it is no doubt one. And yet, the styling and choice of colors makes a world of difference. The green skirt has been paired with a borderless kanchipuram silk dupatta. Vijayalakshmi has matched it with a sequin crop-top from her wardrobe. The outfit has been styled with mild makeup, fuss-free hairdo and accessories.
With the right styling, accessories and intelligent pairing of colors, there is no outfit that can be deemed too traditional or too modern. One can easily strike a balance between these two sides as required. Perhaps the aubergine vanasingaram skirt can be paired with a long silk kurta for a Sangeet or even a crop-top for a cocktail night. The same green skirt can be matched with red or magenta dupatta and blouse for a rich and festive look. With some smart choices one can have endless wardrobe options and sartorial choices to wear for every occasion