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Is It Too Late Now To Say Saree?

February 14, 2018 | by Mansi Shah

You aren’t really an Indian bride if you haven’t lusted after a Sabyasachi creation for your wedding day. Many kidneys may have to be sold, but a piece from this ace couturier in your trousseau is a must. Because what are kidneys when you are trying to look like a resplendent bride? And of course, the brand’s commitment to helping local artisans and reviving lost art forms make us feel like we are also helping a cause, no?

So when Sabyasachi went to Harvard recently, and shamed women who don’t know how to drape a saree, we were a little, well, miffed. Mainly because that’s just wrong. Of course, you don’t get a refund on donated kidneys, so that might be something. 

After this statement raked up a storm on social media with people slamming the designer for his choice of words and also for his energetically trampling over people’s free will, Sabyasachi has now written an open letter. An open letter is a letter saying everything you want to say, absolving yourself of much responsibility, and spring cleaning your conscience. Sabyasachi says in this open letter, and we quote, ‘To begin, allow me to sincerely apologise for the words that I used while answering impromptu questions at a conference at Harvard. I am sorry that I used the word ‘shame’ in reference to some women’s inability to wear a sari. I truly regret that the way in which I tried to make a point about the sari enabled it to be interpreted as misogynistic, patriarchal, and non-inclusive – this was certainly not my intention.’

Hmm. That’s well worded. Notice the use of the word ‘impromptu’. Should we take this to mean that a pre-discussed questionnaire will not have Sabyasachi fumbling so eloquently? 

He also goes on to say, ‘I would like to bring to your notice, that the majority of my staff at Sabyasachi Couture are women. From pattern makers, to seamstresses, to designers, to publicists, to IT consultants, department heads, store managers, and core of management; women comprise the top earners on my payroll – and it is not because they are women, but because they’ve earned it by their merit. And every Friday, men and women alike at Sabyasachi wear Indian clothing to celebrate our love for textiles, with zero enforcement.’

And here we are lobbying to go to work in our pyjamas on Friday. 

You know what makes this worse? We so like you. We adore your work, we buy into your premise. But… we are also inundated by random people telling us what to do, what to wear, and how to feel. Like the Goa CM is worried about us guzzling beer. Or the various voices on the Internet judging us for wearing a skirt, a shirt, a burqa. Till recently, the censor board worried about us being too progressive because we talked about sex and how we would like it. So, it would be nice to have an exception. Really.

Our take? Look, as a designer, you’ve heard women talk about sarees, fawn over sarees, and basically break FDs to pay for your sarees. So women must love sarees. How they feel in them, how they SHOULD feel in them, where they wear them, not your call to make. You know what’s also not your concern? Whether they know how to drape them. We may want it hiked up to our knees. We may wanted it wrapped around our waist. We may NOT want to wear it at all. Either way, not your place!

It would also help to not make broad, sweeping generalisations. How’d you like if we called you a tailor? 

Mansi Shah

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