Kala Art and Design

Fashion-Transcending a Fabric Between Generations

By- Saesha Sharda, Sophomore, 2021

My grandmother, Nani, had a beautiful saari: a purple one with floral patterns all over. Nani was amazing at dress-making and knitting. As far as I can remember, I have been wearing her hand-knitted sweaters and hand-me-downs. So, I decided to transform her purple saree into a formal designer dress/piece. With my mother’s help, I picked a deep wine-purple satin fabric to go with it and designed a simple ‘A‘-line under-dress with a raglan sleeve cut. With the saree fabric, I gathered it and created a wrap-around belt/skirt with gemmed buckle. This way, the under-dress + wrap-around skirt had the versatility to be tied anywhere, from the waist to even the shoulders. After countless sewing machine runs, weeks of time, mistakes, and redo the dress was complete. Wearing it, it feels as if I am embodying a purple butterfly. 

It was eye-opening to transform the fabric from one style to another and essentially pass it from one generation to another. The fabric had a distinct smell, a smell that reminded me of my Nani and my grandparent’s home in Dehradun. I remember her warm smile, gentle laugh, and beautiful aura by simply smelling that fabric. It is just a reminder that the saari, though it is nonliving, lived through my grandmother’s life and now it will live through mine; and this applies to any item of clothing. By using that purple flower-patterned fabric, I feel as if I am honoring her by honing her dressmaking skills and continuing her legacy.

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