Pop goes the sari

Once restricted to décor, T-shirts and accessories, the quirk factor has now conquered the whole six yards

Last month, during the Wills India Fashion Week (WIFW) in Delhi, a pleasant surprise lay in store for fashion lovers who walked into the Play Clan stall. The design brand known for its quirky, pop-coloured products — home décor, stationery, T-shirts or accessories — launched a line of 10 colourful, graphic print saris. Himanshu Dogra, founder of Play Clan, explains how each sari has been inspired by the tribes and icons of India. "Our brand's philosophy is to tell stories about India and these saris do that. To us, the sari is a versatile piece of garment that offers a beautiful canvas — right from pallu to border. So, we have saris that depict the alleys and lanes of an average Indian neighbourhood ("Mohalla"), ones with the Aryan, Arab and Portuguese influences that abound in the country's Western coast ("Konkani") and the wish-fulfilling cow print saris ("Gau Mata")," he says.

India has always celebrated colour but the dominance of pop colours and kitschy motifs over the traditional silhouette (read: the sari) is relatively new. Apart from Play Clan, other designers and brands are playing up the pop element in saris. Bangalore-based designer Deepika Govind, for one, decided to glam up the Patola of Gujarat in her recent Lakme Fashion Week collection, aptly called 'Pop Patola'. "I wanted my line to be a tribute to this weaving tradition, albeit with a tongue-in-cheek pop art interpretation. So I went ahead with colour blocking and an array of interesting motifs — from a car, mobile phone and laptop to trees and birds," she says.

Indian kitsch and pop elements such as streets, people, faces, dialogues, chai stalls, posters, rickshaws and Bollywood song and dance have been Nida Mahmood's muse right from the time she started her label five years ago. In fact, her collections — "Break On Through", "High on Chai", "New India Bioscope Co", "Sadak Chaap", "Maachis" and most recently, "The Great Indian Tamasha" — have all featured the sari in a colourful, bold avatar. "When I started out, these pop-coloured saris were a novel way of expressing rebellion. Today, they are becoming the norm," she says, adding that her saris make for great individual style statements.

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