Men and their feminine muse are not unheard of. From poetry, to art, to high fashion, the muse has inspired many a creation too. While it’s easier to understand it as a fascination for women, the concept didn’t quite sit right with us when it came to these five men and their affair with women in sarees. The more we looked, read and pondered, we wondered if it’s really about the women. We wondered if the love affair is more between them and the sarees?
Raja Ravi Varma
He painted his silk saree clad subjects with such elegance and poise that it is often said, ‘the popularity of Raja Ravi Varma’s art helped make the saree the national dress for Indian women’.
When Raja Ravi Varma was commissioned paintings by Indian royals, he set out to travel the country to find a garment for the women he would paint and picked the nine yard saree, as it draped the body beautifully while still exhibiting the contours of the female anatomy so well.
Whether she’s the one with the coyly draped red silk saree, worn against the beautiful green of the blouse, or the one in a creamy white Banarsi silk with pearls, it’s hard to say if Raja Ravi Varma’s fascination for the women he painted would have been as intense if it weren’t for the ‘nine unstitched yards’!
This man has a love so pure for the garment that he wouldn’t let a woman come in between him and his beloved saree! Himanshu Verma chooses to profess his love by literally wearing it himself, completely dropping the woman as if she were never anything more than a prop!
Himanshu started the ‘Red Earth Design Mela’ in 2004, the first ever festival dedicated solely to the saree, featuring talks, films and more.
This picture, with a Suneet Verma tussar silk saree worn by Shyamolie Verma, shot by Prabuddha Dasgupta, sent ripples through the fashion world, relaunching the saree in its Greek goddess avatar.
The iconic photograph was a turning point for the garment in the early 90s, making it a coveted fashion item at a time when it was not even a contender!
Abraham and Thakore
They’ve played with its shape, drape and proportions, almost architecturally, combining the saree with unusual embellishments, reworking the boundaries of traditions and modernity. Think belting a saree, high necked full sleeved blouses, draped in a matter of fact way, with high mojri shoes.
The saree has never looked more dapper.
One of Abraham and Thakore’s iconic designs, The Saree Silhouette, has been acquired by Victoria and Albert Museum, to be displayed in one of their permanent galleries, next to the likes of Coco Chanel and Christian Dior.
“Simplicity, my dear, that’s all there is to it. I am a compulsive purist” says Sanjay Garg, the man who put cow motifs on Banarsi silks and brought about a signature lightness to handloom sarees through his label ‘Raw Mango’.
Though Raw Mango sarees are on everyone’s lust list, selling faster than word of the new collection spreads, what makes him a part of this list here is not just his chanderis but the way he chooses to shoot them, teasing our imagination, turning us into storytellers!
This image from his photo spread called ‘Beloved’, for instance, shows a gorgeous Banarsi silk weave lying (like a woman) on the bed next to the man, weaving a little tale in our head. It hints at the presence of a woman ever so lightly, as one wonders if the man is napping while she’s taking her time dressing up, or if they’ve had a little tiff and she’s walked out on him, while he grieves!
– text by Aditi Bhatia