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Designer Sarees: A History from 1980 to 2014 Designer sarees have their own plush unmatched appeal that has been honored by sari connoisseurs across India. The best part about the designer drapes is that these are meant to revive the classy saree culture among India which was on the verge of extinction owing to the overwhelming popularity of western attires. Historically speaking, the trend of designer sarees commenced with Ritu Kumar’s work from 1970s who strived to bring back the regal Mughal era zardosi work on drapes with some Bengali weavers. However, the designer saree scene started gaining a steady momentum since the 1980s which is thankfully going strong till date. The article here presents a discussion on history of designer sarees in India from 1980s to 2014. 1980s 

Satya Paul

The Indian designer saree scene owes much to the 1980s decade given the emergence of Satya Paul saree collections. Satya Paul can be aptly dubbed as one among the frontrunners of Indian saree given his dedication towards the reinvention of the traditional drape as an amazing modern classic. The Satya Paul saree brand came into play in the year 1985 and since then has been a top favorite among the sari admirers around. Paul started off with an unadulterated ethnic fashion vision & hence his designer sarees depict inspiration from rich Indian history & nature. Paul’s sarees celebrates Indian women and his designer drapes symbolize the trendy smart thinking ladies of the country. The designer popularized printed designer sarees in India that are marked by a beautiful play of hues all across the drape. Paul’s selection of colors depicts elegance, sensitivity & sense of harmony that define today’s Indian women. Sophisticated designs and great shades work together to ensure some of the most beautiful designer drapes. Satya Paul’s efforts to modernize sarees did much to bring back the favor for the drape amidst Indian women. 1990s 

Tarun Tahiliani


Tarun Tahiliani is the most prominent name in the designer saree scene from the 1990s. Albeit Tahiliani started off in around 1987 but it was since the 1990s that his saree works started gaining prominence. The master designer is mostly famous for popularizing designer bridal sarees in India. Tahiliani focuses on refined luxury, Indian sensibility & meticulous tailoring to present some of the most elegant bridal designer sarees. Historical opulence & grandeur are patent in Tahiliani designer saree creations. Added to the gorgeous bridal wear, the renowned designer has also contributed designer chic chiffon &silk sarees to the designer drape scene. 2000s The decade of 2000 is another most significant time-line in the history of designer sarees. Some of the most prominent fashion designers from 2000s are Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Manish Arora, Manish Malhotra and Masaba Gupta. 

Sabyasachi Mukherjee

The renowned Bengali fashion designer is one of the brightest stars of Indian fashion industry and would always be remembered for his great efforts to revive the saree culture. Mukherjee’s design philosophy centers around “human mind’s personalized imperfections” – and the designer has chosen themes like gypsies, deserts, harlots as well as cultural traditions and antique textiles of hometown Kolkata to style up his designer drapes. Mukherjee is credited for getting traditional Indian textiles into contemporary context. His sarees reflect his wise usage of some of the indigenous methods such as hand dyeing, block printing, gotawork, bandhni etc. Sabyasachi initiated “Save The Saree” project where the designer sells Indian hand-woven sarees on non-profit principle & the entire amount gained goes for the benefit of Murshidabad saree weavers. The designer uses textiles from different parts of India, including Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Fulia. His sarees portray rich Indian fabrics, especially Banarasi fabric. Intricate zaree borders are patent with Sabyasachi designer drapes. 

Manish Malhotra


Manish Malhotra is another important name across the scene of Indian designer sarees. Though Malhotra is mostly famous for being the style master of Bollywood, which usually feature western themed attires yet his saree collections too have received huge admiration. Malhotra’s lines of designer drapes are generally available in fine georgette and chiffon fabrics that are popular in Bollywood movies. The designer seems to have a fascination for popping shades such as fuchsia pink, coral, peach, purple etc. and loves to use them on his saree designs. However, Malhotra is also credited for his contribution towards the revival of chikankari work on sarees. He is associated with the development of chikankari craftsmen of Uttar Pradesh. The master couturier is also involved with zari workers of Kashmir and hence many of his designer sarees display rich zari designs. 

Manish Arora

Manish Arora is hailed as one of the great contributors in the elevation of traditional Indian saree into the modern context. Arora is renowned for his unique blend of ethnic sensibilities with occidental style statements that is hugely echoed by his designer drape creations. Versatility is an important term when it comes to Manish Arora designer sarees. The best bit about them is that Arora’s drapes can cater to every women, right from Bollywood divas to the very girl next door. Fondly addressed as “India’s John Galliano”, the famous couturier has a knack for kitsch motifs and psychedelic shades in his saree creations that transcend the sarees from just being “Indian” to an international favorite. He is known for beautifully matching up western silhouettes with conventional Indian crafts such as appliqué, embroidery, beading etc. 

Masaba Gupta

Masaba Gupta arrived in the Indian fashion scene since 2009. Her fashion philosophy is to create stylish yet budgeted sarees so that almost anybody could afford to don a designer drape. Deeply inspired by the lifestyle of under-privileged women who stitch big pockets on sarees for coins and food- Gupta creates designer sarees embodying big patchwork pockets. Of late she has joined hands with Satya Paul brand of sarees to render a further young edgy touch to the Paul collections 2010-2014


The Indian designer saree scene has gained a heightened momentum since 2010 and it seems that saree once again is back to the fore for Indian women. With elite designers like Satya Paul Tarun Tahiliani, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Manish Malhotra , Manish Arora, Masaba Gupta etc. reaching up to great heights with their designer drapes, Indians are getting more and more conscious about the drape that was on its way to disappearance a few decades back. Moreover, as the Bollywood divas- who are hailed as the style icons among Indian women- are increasingly taking to the designer sarees for the films and public appearances, the average Indian women too are getting drawn towards the ethnic wear. Interestingly enough, the modern Indian designer sarees have received huge admiration from the international circuits as well. Many Hollywood celebs such as Ashley Judd and Pamela Anderson have donned sarees in public functions. In fact, many foreign women love to don a designer saree today like their Indian friends. The rising fondness for sarees have led to the further arrival of many budding fashion designers of in India who have their primary focus on the drape especially. The most significant names here include Sashikant Naidu and Gaurang Shah. 

Sashikant Naidu-

Shashikant’s designer sarees are basically themed on rich Indian culture and heritage. The rising designer nurtures a knack towards a subtle classy style statement which, to some extent, defines the modern-day smart and educated damsels of India. His designer drapes duly echo Naidu’s comprehensive study & understanding of ethnic Indian culture, shades as well as the ancient tribal lifestyle in the country. He mostly works with ikkat and kalamkari- both of which are hugely appreciated among the contemporary ethnic womenfolk. The south Indian fashion designer has even worked with the khadi drapes, a fond favorite of the intellectual modern-day thinking women. Naidu’s most preferred hues for this season are primrose yellow, peach, royal blue, deep te3al. deep purple, burnt orange, dull gold and red. 

Gaurang Shah

Shah is another budding name who is creating huge waves in the contemporary Indian designer saree scene. Unlike the maximum fashion designers who generally take to breezy crepe, georgette or chiffon drapes, this new kid in the block is following an entirely different route. Breaking the myth the designer sarees are mostly lightweight, Shah has launched quite an exotic


repertoire of aristocratic and grand Bengali zamdani sarees- proving that the traditional majestic drapes can have a contemporary edge as well. Shah’s designer zamdani sarees are an exquisite blend of conventional elegant aristocracy and a smart trendy attitude. The zamdani designer sarees from Shah’s collections have received great appreciation and patronage from eminent Bollywood celebrities such as Chitrangada Singh and Kirron Kher. It should be noted here that though the Indian women today do not usually take to sarres in their day to day life but the designer drapes are a much desired option when it comes to parties and other grand occasions. In fact, the revival of Indian saree scene by the fashion designers had made the drape popular among the overseas settled Indian women as well, who are otherwise seen in western attires.

Designer sarees - A History from 1980 to 2014  

Designer sarees have their own plush unmatched appeal that has been honored by sari connoisseurs across India.

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