A ruffle must be intelligent,” said Spanish fashion legend Cristobal Balenciaga. The flounce and flirtatiousness of the said ruffle is proving to be a smart choice on Indian fashion runways this season. The recently concluded Summer/Resort 2019 edition of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) in Mumbai saw designers Gaurav Gupta, Varun Bahl, Payal Singhal and Anushree Reddy continue their summer romance with frills and gathers, this time swathing the six-yard sari in whimsical ruffles.
One might say that India’s answer to Balenciaga — couturiers Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla — have been adding ruffles and frills to everything that drapes, shapes and contours for years. Their ruffle sari had a Cannes outing with Sonam Kapoor in 2015. But it’s this season’s somewhat understated and more wearable version that is racing to the top of the trend charts. Flirty, fun and unapologetically feminine, the ruffled sari caught the nation’s fancy last year and has decided to stay put well into 2019.
Actor Shilpa Shetty has worn more than one ruffled sari from Arpita Mehta and versions from Tarun Tahiliani, Amit Aggarwal, Ridhi Mehra and Jayanti Reddy. And while the svelte actor carries off the silhouette and surplus fabric with aplomb, Mehta insists it’s a style that works for all body types. The Mumbai-based designer’s dalliance with the ruffled sari started in the summer of 2018 when she wanted to give a new direction to her Indian resortwear. She has now made it in an assortment of floral prints, more defined deck chair stripes and statement solids and has sold nearly 220 of them since, worn by the likes of Sonakshi Sinha, Jacqueline Fernandez, Kriti Sanon and Sakshi Dhoni.
“It is fitted on the hip and then flares out from the knees in a slight mermaid cut. So, it’s very flattering for all sizes and shapes. And since the pre-stitched style allows one to play around with length of layers and placement of ruffles, you can customise it to a body type,” says Mehta about her creations that come in georgette, silk chiffon and net.
While the popular fashion-week narrative generally revolves around sustainable weaves and the handloom sari, there’s no denying the appeal of the cocktail avatar. Even as the handwoven sari commands a more esoteric and discerning clientele, the ruffled sari is finding takers across age-groups and demographics. Hyderabad-based designer Anushree Reddy says women under 40 are the ideal age bracket but she makes a simpler version for older clientele too. “Consumers today are open to experimenting without any constraints. A ruffle sari is easy to wear and perfect for a wedding cocktail party to dance away in,” says Reddy.
While designers like Karishma Shahani of Ka-Sha have tried to marry weaves and ruffles in the past — with khadi, mul, Chanderi and Kota doriya teamed with oversized and zari ruffles — others prefer to keep the narrative light. Payal Singhal, who has introduced various iterations of the style since she first experimented with the ruffled pallu in 2016, believes it serves as the perfect brand ambassador for her global fusion Indian wear label. “For me, it’s a playful version of a sari and adds movement. It also works very well with our brand ethos, which is contemporary Indian, and it stands for the perfect confluence of the east and west,” says Singhal, who presented a pale mint striped Chanderi silk sari with a crepe ruffle in her Summer/Resort 2019 line.
While buyers are loving this sassier version of the sari, retailers like Aparna Badlani of Atosa store also welcome the fresh interlude. “It’s a sure shot headturner, be it in a solid colour or a print. It’s also the next step to modernising the sari. We have already seen various pre-draped, pre-pleated versions of it. This season we totally ought to welcome the ruffled sari,” she says.
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