Photograph: A model wearing a sari by Sabyasachi Mukherjee
The earliest memories we have of saris are from our mothers' or grandmothers' closets. These traditional weaves are a part of those prized possessions one has. Sometimes, they are passed on for generations and, most of the time, they speak for themselves. Your mother might have a six-yard treasure tucked away in her wardrobe to give to you at your wedding, which takes with itself an old story to your new home. So, keep the traditional alive, invest in a few weaves that would not only leave a mark when you wear them but will also carry forward a memory.
Benarasi: Made from fine woven silk and traditionally associated to the city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, these silk saris are often associated with bridal wear. The characteristics of these weaves are inspired by Mughal designs – flora and fauna. Intricately woven, each sari takes about 15-30 days to complete. The rich gold border is usually the most eye-catching part of the sari. However, there are many fake copies of these, and you can easily tell if there are some raw edges of the yarn or the sari feels pokey and rough on the skin.
Kanjeevaram: Kanjeevaram saris are 150 years old and belong to the temple town Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. The traditional temple motifs include the vanki, sun, jasmine and moon that are almost always placed on most vivid jewel tones. To ensure you are buying a genuine Kanjeevaram sari, scratch the zari to check if red silk emerges from the core of the sari. If not, then it is not a real Kanjeevaram weave.
Photograph: Actor-politician Kiron Kher in a Gaurang creation
Patola: In Gujarat, no wedding is complete without Patola saris. These heirloom, double-ikat pieces feature motifs like paan, navratna, raas, elephants and peacocks that require both dyeing and weaving skills. Each sari takes about four to six months to complete and once it is done, not even the weaver can identify the front and back side.
In case you are looking for a colourful and textured sari, this is definitely your pick.
Photograph: Actor Tapsee Pannu in a Gaurang creation
Jamdani: One of the oldest weaves in the Indian tradition, it belongs to West Bengal and is a ‘must-have’ in your trousseau. The process of creation is time-consuming as the sari is hand woven on a muslin fabric to give a dhoopchaon effect (shadow effect) using a counter coloured thread. This weave has now been replaced by a more westernised version – jacquard.
The difficulty of making these saris ensures that fake Jamdanis are relatively rare. In any case, Jamdani saris are available for every price range. The higher the price, the softer the fabric and greater the thread work.
Photograph: Chanderi Silk sari @ Shreedesignersaree
Chanderi: A combination of cotton and silk, this sari is finely hand-woven and is known for its sheer, glossy and transparent look. The sari is quite a rage in Madhya Pradesh and designers like Gaurang and Rahul Mishra are ardent lovers of this fabric. The sari takes about two weavers and almost eight days to complete and keeps getting better with time. So the older the sari, the better it looks. Although it is difficult to spot a fake Chanderi silk sari, experts advise you to rub your hand over the silk and if it sounds like ‘walking on the snow’ then it is real silk.