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THE GREEN SHIRT

Sathya Saran  (click here to know more about this blogger)

I look at the green shirt. Well, it is not quite a shirt though it has buttons in front like one and long sleeves. But there is a kurti shape to it.. yet it is too long too be called a kurti. It is a deep emerald green, dyed so, and in the dyeing has aquired streaks of a lighter hue as if the person who dyed the garment dipped it with his mind on something else. At the shoulder are tiny slits running round to the armhole and threaded through it are small gold knobs, again not quite buttons, but nothing else recognisable either.

I have worn the garment a few times now. It always evokes a remark. At first I was dismayed at the way the cloth seemed to lack muscle; it flapped weakly against my body, making me wonder if it caused me to look half dressed. But no one else noticed and while sometimes the colour won approval, other times the garment itself won praise for being different.  I have always wondered what makes a garment unique. Some tailors have it, a magical ability to cut and sew a piece of cloth with almost no pretentions, into something that can transform the wearer into what she is not, but wants to be. This piece of cloth, once as unpretentious as any cloth can be, fragile and stained in dye, was possibly crafted by some such magician. I could see him in my imagination, a frown on his brow perhaps, as his hand held the cloth, smoothening it out before he picked the heavy metal scissors to cut it into a pattern that he would join at the edges to make the garment I now owned. It had hung , flapping loosely in the wind, on a thin iron hanger out in the sun, at one if the many stalls that lined a flea market. It was a sunny day in Dijon, and I was out sighseeing. The stalls sold woollen clothes and scarves, and odds and ends, but even as I walked up, the garments on the hangers caught my eye. The colors were fresh and jewel like, the emerald of the bottle green, the blush of the rose punk, the brilliance of white...and there was a grey that stood morosely in sharp contrast, as if rebuking the lack of formality of the other shades.
 
The lady who owned the stall saw our interest and we had to bargain hard and part with money more than something that finally fitted into a corner of my hand luggage merited, but I knew there was magic in the way the pieces had been crafted, and could not leave without it. I have other similar treasures. a silk sleeveless blouse which has mock MOP buttons and can dress up any skirt, an off white flared long dress that could combine well with a bolero.. the first was bought at Colaba Causeway, the second in a tiny garage off a main street in Aix, France. I have seen similar surprises... In the work of little known or young aspirants to the world of fashion. Gazed with joy at swatches of handwoven silk fabric from forgotten looms in Assam coming together in new and wonderful ways to create a contemporary garment and felt amazed at the ease with which diverse and seemingly disparate elements like Swarovski threads and horsehair combine with silk yarn to form a new style vocabulary!! In all this is the future.. where fashion is no longer a stance to be worn but a natural way to style.
 
Why am I sharing this? Perhaps to share my beleif that even among clothes and accessories, there are creations born to blush unseen. The green garment has no label, the woman claimed it was made in Italy, but someone in a shack down the road from the market could well have created it,  placing the many pieces of coloured cloth one over the other, cutting through them in swift, practised thrusts of steel. Yet, beyond the labor was evident the artistry which made the garments stand out against all the others. I write this to say that labels do not always need to be sought.. Though some ensure amazing creations time after time, others may not be as consistent. That labels mean different things, some promise creativity and style, others opulence, and yet others consistent quality of fabric and trimmings. That while one is perfectly justified in seeking out a nationally sold brand or a much feted designer to enhance one's wardrobe, there is no reason to not check out humbler possibilities. Every city has its own version of Dijon's weekly market, where, if you sift the grain from the chaff, you will find something to treasure.. Mumbai's Fashion Street and Delhi's Sarojini Market are obvious examples. And many others in other places too, where treasures hang, waiting for discovery!

Credits: The Swirling Gomchca From Bengal
Photography, Hair, Make-up and Styling: Nikos Narkissos
Costume and Accessories: Minal Brahmne
Location: HRH Raja Virendra Shah of Nagpur (Kichbeen Mahal, Deogargh)
 
The Swirling Gomchca From Bengal
 
26-APRIL-2013
 
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