A classical drape, endlessly evolving, ravenously reinterpreted, feted in fashion circles, and yet, very much also a part of our everyday lives, the Saree is the life breath of India. The Saree Festival attempts to create an ongoing tribute to this most wondrous, most amoebic pahnawa.
Platforms which foreground the Saree tend to focus on either one of its styles: traditional, or contemporary. Various Saree exhibitions and showings signal an engagement with the vast diversity of traditional Sarees created by weavers from different parts of India, also featuring interventions in this genre by contemporary designers. Much in contrast to this “traditional” approach, at the other end of the Saree spectrum is the reinterpretations of the Saree at a structural /formal level by contemporary designers trained in the discipline of fashion. A third stream of the Saree universe brings us to a new idiom – a language of digital print and graphics. This vocabulary is all pervasive, in its grand sweep from the big daddies of fashion to the street side Saree shops working with a mass produced industrial aesthetic.
While the richness of experience that the Saree is capable of in contemporary times, is there for anyone to see, it’s very rare to see a comprehensive, all encompassing celebration of the Saree. Craft platforms mostly do not engage with the newer forms the Saree is lending itself to, and conversely the world of Indian fashion returns this compliment by shifting the premium to the more cutting edge, experimental forms in which the Saree is being re-imagined. As a result, even though we have an immensity of ways of looking at the Saree, we experience this grand narrative in fractions and fragments, and almost never do we attempt to create a story without building hierarchies, and putting Saree aesthetics into boxes.
The Saree Festival attempts to be this unalloyed, all pervasive love affair with the drape, in bringing together the vast richness of styles, materials, traditions, techniques, experiments, vocabularies, sensibilities, that can all achieve fruition under the never ending swirl of the Saree. The Saree sans frontieres!
The festival comprises of Saree Mela, an exhibition and sale of diverse Saree collections, focussing predominantly on Pan-Indian handloom idioms. Saree ka Gunijan Khana, the theoretical and performance aspect of Red Earth’s The Saree Festival hopes to bring together various voices and ideas around the Saree, in a multidisciplinary approach to celebrate the wondrous swirl of the Saree.