The Royal Sari Sagas
Women from Indian royalty have been known for their work, philanthropy and their style statement. One thing common between them and their fashion is the beautiful sari. The Sari has moulded itself to be an outfit to exhibit sophistication and glamour for the lovely Maharanis and Princesses.
Rani Sita Devi of Kapurthala was an inspiration to top photographers in the 1930s like Cecil Beaton and Man Ray. She epitomized glamour and haute couture and was considered one of the most beautiful women in the subcontinent. Her wardrobe consisted of many chiffon saris which she wore with fur coats designed by European designers like Mainbocher.
Rani Chimanbai of Baroda, like most other royal women of her lineage was seen in Chanderi and Paithani saris in solid colours with rich zari work. The famous painter, Raja Ravi Verma has immortalized her through his work. One such portrait shows her in a formal attire, adorning a gorgeous black and gold Paithani with rich pearl and gold jewellery.
The mother and daughter duo of Indira Devi, Maharani of Cooch Behar and Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur carried the traditional sari with such flair that they balanced the imperatives of Indian courtly traditions with the western sense of fashion with ease. Being a widow, Maharani Indira Devi did not adhere to the customs of wearing a white sari with a thin border but instead started a new trend of wearing shimmering white chiffons especially ordered from France and wore it the whole 9 yard sari, leaving an expanse of sheer cloth behind her.
Maharani Gayatri Devi too inherited the elegance from her mother, Indira Devi. Her liberal westernised upbringing and respect for the Indian culture gave her the confidence to create her own look in terms of saris. She usually wore chiffon in solid colours. She felt that the solid colour best accentuated the beauty of the Indian sari. She even took to wearing her Lehariyas and Bandhanis which later on was followed by many upper class and middle class women.
Maharani Shubhanginiraje Gaekwad and her daughter-in-law Radhikaraje Gaekwad are known for their great taste in saris. They are known to have a wonderful collection of antique chanderi saris. Maharani Shubhanginiraje Gaekwad has maintained the traditional splendour of the chanderi saris by having the gold border and two gold bands woven on the sari pallav and she ensures that the process used to make chanderi saris is organic.