06 May, 2021


What Deepika wore is a corking argument for a sari evolving gownwards


In 1991, when Madonna wore the conical bra that made eyes pop at Cannes, she was making—crudely perhaps—a personal and political statement on a real fashion stage which turns style into a global media narrative. Cannes, after all, is where the most sought-after brands vie to be seen on international celebrities. Celebrity stylists are swagged, wined and dined for months by fashion houses so that a clutch, a pair of stilettos, and most importantly, a piece of couture is seen on a star there. Worn as they were on such a stage, it’s no wonder that Deepika Padukone’s Rohit Bal ivory-and-gold sari—followed by Aishwarya Rai’s starry Sabyasachi sari—has re-energised the sari vs gown wrangle that plays itself out in myriad ways back home.

Ostensibly, the debate is based on a simple proposition. As Rohit Bal put it, “Gowns and elaborate western dresses do not represent India.” But it’s not quite as simple as that. As is evident from Deepika’s sari statement, followed quickly by...

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