Saris in India have a long history. Saris were first discovered like costumes draped around sculptures dating back to 100 years. The variety of colors, patterns, weaves and draping styles make the sari one of the world’s most stylish and attractive costumes. Many of regional weaving centers are still involved in traditional handloom production.
Hence, Silk and brocades were earlier woven for royalty and the well – heeled. White, plain and sparsely adorned saris were worn by Brahmins as a mark of purity. Intricacy and prominence of motifs, width of borders and length and elaborateness of the “pallav” were well harmonized with the anthropometry and climatic conditions in a place.
Since the ancient times, the weavers understood the complex and intangible relationship between humans and products. They attempted to nurture and harmonize this dynamic interaction. Functional and utilitarian norms invariably found expression in colour, material, construction, ornamentation and drapes. Hence design has always played a very important role in the development of material culture, considering the implications to people and their environment. And designing involves an observant mind, vivid visualization and value – driven capacity to shape dreams into reality.
However, a sari is a classical attire. Like the regional languages of India and their dialects, each geographical region has its own way to design, drape and communicate through different saris. Even the standards for border width and pallav length are depended upon the region in which a sari was woven. Akin to Indian classical music a sari’s design has always been governed by a certain language of form and layout, yet individual expression of each weaver could remain different. Metamorphosis practiced throughout the history of Indian textiles as a fundamental conceptual theme, can still provide richness to the expression that a new design collection of saris could offer.
However, today, the weavers need not essentially pursue a connection with the past. A conscious balance between tradition and modernity paves the way to the saris’ future. The essence of each design is in its dynamism. Innovative ideas are the natural fallout of systematic evolution in design or a tradition. Many find traditional norms very imposing and detrimental to innovation however; the sari lends itself to innumerable ways of creating a new composition.
The sari’s intrinsic beauty is the result of a careful synchronization of many visual and tactile components with its three basic divisions, the border, the body and the pallav. Proportions can be played to harmonize well with any style of drape. The possibilities multiply when one experiments within a division. These variations in texture, weave, weight and decoration contribute in vitalizing a sari’s aesthetics and utility. Frequently, it is the design of the border and the pallav that gives the sari its unique tradition bound identity.
Many new saris often reflect conflict that is result of the difference in conceptual understanding between the designer and the weaver. Good design seamlessly blends the aesthetics into a functional and utilitarian product. And a sari encompasses all aesthetic aspects of designer.