Walk into my wardrobe with Laila Tyabji

Laila  Tyabji was invited to join Kai Thari-Karigar, a Facebook group devoted to promoting handlooms and saris, she decided to liven things up by posting an image of herself attired in a cotton sari for a few days.

What a perfect example for our Walk into my Wardrobe feature.

Week 1


Top row, left to right:

1 Chikan embroidery on pale lemon kota doria, ( the closeup looks pink because of the light).

2 Jade-green Dhaka jamdani.

3 A gift by designer Wendell Rodricks — one of his Kunbi revival sarees.

Bottom row:

1 Flaming tomato-red Chettinad to celebrate the only cool rainy day in the week.

2 A Maheshwari which changes shades of blue every 1 metre, with a simple ikat border.

3 Ponduru off-white Khadi with woven blue border, with Lambani embroidery.

4 Orissa green-check cotton with black pattern weave border (this sari is approximately 35 years old, and is not woven these days).

( Close up images of the sarees)


 Week 2

week 2

Top row, left to right:

1 A piece by Brigitte Singh featuring beautiful hand block prints on superfine Kota. No one does block printing the way she does. There are 6 different block impressions in this amazing print.

2 An interesting half-and-half chanderi sari with Bandini on the top and Ajrakh printing below. This sari (from Kutch) has been crafted by the the alumni of the Kala Raksha Vidyalaya craft school.

3 A Kota Laheria tie-dye from Udaipur.

4 A Bengali Shantipur sari.

Bottom row:

5 A dramatic weave from Andhra that is partly striped and partly in checks, and is set off by the plain crimson border.

6 This piece is actually two Banarsi cutwork dupattas worn like a Mekhela chador. (I often do this. It’s an advantage for women who are not too tall)

7 Another Banarsi weave.

8 A striking and contemporary Andhra ikat sari that is also half-and-half: it has chevron grey and black stripes on the top half, and white diamonds on a deep red ground in the bottom half.

( Close-up images of the sarees)


Week 3


1 A Shibori indigo on Chanderi. The fine lines are crafted in a technique that’s currently very popular as it’s a simple way to achieve intricate yet asymmetrical designs. The required design is loosely machine-stitched, following which the cloth is dyed and then the stitching is unpicked… and Voila! There’s the design in white! The broader zigzags are done in the traditional Shibori fold-and-dye technique.

2 A Bengal sari from Phulia. I love its classic off-white with the narrow red ambi border, and the occasional tussar threads running through it. These provide some relief from the white hue, and give the sari body.

3 A peach Banarsi cotton with cream butis and pallav motifs.

4 One of my favourites: a shaded grey sari made by the Vankar weavers in Kutch, who traditionally only made woollen shawls, but now are experimenting with all kinds of things. It has gorgeous tassels and motifs in the pallav, and is shaded both horizontally and vertically from charcoal to pale grey and back again.

Bottom row:

1 A shaded pink red half-and-half weave from Orissa, with a very interesting Ikat transition where the pink meets the red, & a white Ikat line at the top & bottom.

2 A blue-green ajrakh print on Maheshwari.

3 A sunny yellow finely-woven cotton sari from Jharkand with missing vertical threads and thicker tussar threads in the pallav, along with pista green and brown ganga-jumna borders.

4 A classic Telia Rumal from Andhra. This double Ikat weave in sturdy, densely woven cotton, with its motifs set in a typical chequered format, is always done in red, black & white. Telias were originally made as headscarves for the African market a couple of centuries ago. Developed into sarees and dupattas, telias are now occasionally done in silk as well. The complexity of the mathematically calculated Ikat weaving makes it a collectors item. The little gingham check details within the bigger motifs are an established characteristic of this style.

( Close up images of the sarees)


 Week 4


1 A black and white woven cotton Banarsi. It’s actually just running material that I really liked. Since it was only 4.5 metres I added a bit of the same weave in black to the two ends of the sari.

2 A vibrant red and orange Orissa weave. With the coming of the jacquard loom motifs and styles are getting so mixed up – there is nothing traditional about the weave except the border. In fact, from a distance the butas look like Kasuti embroidery!

3 A Bandini sari from Gujarat in two shades of peacock blue.

4 A Rajasthani blockprint on chanderi from Sanganer. The big floral butas are overprinted on a ground of a fine all-over line print (dutta), giving a 3-D effect. This is a style of printing revived by designer Brigette Singh.

A Macchlipatnam Kalamkari blockprint done on a Pochampally Ikat

2 A finely woven pale pista-green Banarasi. A useful sari to wear from office to a more formal evening occasion, as the tussar in the pallav and border gives a dull gold effect under lights.

3 A pale peach Chikan embroidered kota doria. In the closeup you can see the beautiful daraz applique cutwork, which is traditionally used for joining seams on kurtas.

4 The onset of the monsoon (and a cooler Delhi) meant I could wear my thicker Kotpad tribal sari. It is a lovely deep brown, dyed with madder from the Aal tree; with the traditional borders and heavy pallav.

( Close up of the saris)


The article was originally published here

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