The Sari Series: An Anthology of Drape

The Sari Series: An Anthology of Drape is a non-profit project by Border&Fall that documents the various regional sari drapes of India through short film. It includes over 80 how-to drape films and 3 independent art films.

Text: Border&Fall

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The Sari Series: Perhaps the most versatile garment in the world, the sari is an incredible design contribution from India. Its drape is referenced the world over and worn by millions of women on a daily basis. It is versatile and adaptable to context, environment and culture, with its making directly tied to the livelihoods of millions of karigars (craftspeople). Traditionally, it is a single piece of unstitched fabric with variable densities in its parts – with heavier weights allowing for it to drape correctly. Today, its definition includes textiles woven by mill or by hand, often with one density. Though, what can be worn in over 100 different ways has overwhelmingly been whittled down to one recognised style of draping, known as the Nivi drape.

Border&Fall’s project is a non-profit cultural documentation of an incredible textile and garment contribution from India, intended to address a perception shift of the sari, which is often seen as staid, traditional, and increasingly worn only on formal occasions, particularly in urban India. Through film and photography, Border&Fall addresses this perception shift in two distinct ways by:

  1. Creating the first digital anthology of drape, documenting over 80 how-to drapes through short film.
  2. Exploring the sari’s past, present and future in 3 independent films directed by filmmakers Q, Bon Duke, Pooja Kaul.

These films are available free of charge across YouTube and their own digital site.


 
 

Why aren’t more women wearing the sari? Our point of view is that we have taken a living and breathing garment – one meant for adaptation – and largely narrowed its scope to one dimension. Most people perceive the Nivi drape as the only way to wear a sari and more importantly, have no easy access to learn the other drapes.

Therefore, we are left with a garment that is often perceived as traditional, old fashioned and with little room to experiment. Not only is this simply not true of the sari, but this perception puts the garment at risk: future generations will not want to wear it, and in many larger cities, they have already started relegating it to occasion wear.

The sari was designed to adapt. In fact, it didn’t even have a blouse or petticoat until the Victorian era.

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What does a sari look like on a woman today? This is the intention of our project: To look forward by documenting the past, and contribute to a much needed perception shift of the garment. Want to know more about why this project matters so much to us at Border&Fall? Read our article: “Why ‘the Sari?'”.

 

Patronage:
                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                         
PRINCIPAL PATRON
We are honoured that Good Earth is the principal patron for this cultural documentation and Associate Producer of over 70 films in this series, including all three independent films. Their commitment and work within India’s craft, culture and design communities is unparalleled – we could not ask for a more suitable patron to help actualise this project. In Founder Anita Lal’s words: “Along with countless generations and millions of women I have loved and enjoyed draping saris of so many different regions, weaves and colours and have passed a lot of saris and the love for them to my daughters. Border&Fall deserves applause and our thanks for valiantly keeping alive sari traditions.”
 

Patrons

Raw-Mango   Characterized by a love of colour, design, India and textile, Raw Mango has grown to become one of India’s most respected textile brands. Founder Sanjay Garg is deeply committed to furthering the dialogue of design from India and joins this project as a patron and invaluable member of our Advisory Board.

 

 Verve-The   Verve is India’s oldest homegrown women’s monthly magazine and Associate Producer of 15 films. Founder Anuradha Mahindra shares, “It was important for Verve to be a part of this cultural documentation, it comes at a time when we realised this traditional garment was being relegated to occasion wear, rather than representing Indian women in everyday situations. It also comes at a time when there is a conscious industry revival in heritage crafts, a drive towards sustainability and an effort at supporting craftsmen and weavers at their work.”

 

A very special thank you to our Kickstarter supporters and remaining Associate Producers including Christine Sullivan, Ekaya, High Heel Confidential, Ohfab and Swati & Sunaina. Between a successful Kickstarter campaign, Good Earth, and public support, and we consider ourselves very fortunate and thankful to you all. 
 

Creative team:

 

Malika Verma Kashyap, Producer and Creative Director: Curious and concerned with India’s evolving design sensibilities, Malika moved to India from Canada a decade ago with extensive experience in strategic fashion management. She founded Border&Fall as a digital publication and agency and has wanted to see this project come to life for many years.

 

 

 

 

Rta Kapur ChishtiRta Kapur Chishti, Sari Advisor: Rta is India’s leading authority on the sari and a recognized textile scholar, co-author and editor of ‘Saris: Tradition and Beyond’ as well as ‘Handcrafted Indian Textiles’. She is accompanied by her team: Mehak Kapur Chishti, Pallavi Verma and Sharanya Aggarwal.

 

 

 

rashmi varmaRashmi Varma, Associate Creative Director: Currently the Designer and Founder of Rashmi Varma, she was born in Montreal and currently resides in New Delhi. She has costume designed for notable directors, such as Deepa Mehta, and exhibited at the Victoria and Albert  Museum and the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art. She recently co-authored ‘SAR: The Essence of Indian Design’ published by Phaidon Press.

 

 

deep kaileyDeep Kailey, Associate Creative Director: An independent Creative DircDeep is the former Fashion Director of Tatler (UK) and London-based Fashion Editor of Vogue India. Prior engagements include the path-breaking publication Dazed & Confused and special projects for Comme des Garçons, Roksanda Ilincic and Kim Jones.

 

 

Advisory Board:

Filmmakers:  We approached three diverse filmmakers for this project to explore the sari through multiple perspectives. Bon Duke brings his distinct editorial and movement based visuals ; Q (Kaushik Mukherjee), a provocative vision and lens on Indian culture; and Pooja Kaul her intimate and sensitive storytelling:

 

Q director Q, Filmmaker: “I am thrilled to work with Border&Fall to produce a short film about one of the most complex subjects that I have ever worked on. I am a lover of the sari, and the fact that Border&Fall is taking this initiative is very exciting, as well as reassuring. The sari is one of the greatest art forms that exists in the subcontinent, and precious little work has been done to document and understand it. I am looking forward to the sari movement.”

 

Pooja Kaul PortraitPooja Kaul, Filmmaker: ” The texture of memory has always interested me, and forms part of all my work, how it lives with us in the present, and the sari physically embodies that thought perfectly. We have memories of our mothers and grandmothers wearing their saris in the morning, of lying under our mother’s pallu, and now we have the challenge of taking it into the future, of re-imagining it, of maybe even loosening it from the ties of memory. There is a sense of a battle for the sari, which makes the project important.”

 

BonimageBon Duke, Filmmaker: “I’m really interested in showing the youth, culture and creative work coming out of India and the forces – fashion, music, writing – behind all this amazing work. At the same time, I want to respect the subject by not implementing my own perceptions of what I know about India. The balance is going to be in creating something that is appealing to India itself – which means avoiding cliches that are common there – but which feels inclusive to the rest of the world.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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